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Contesting the Capital: Heritage and the Remaking of Tshwane (Pretoria)

30 minutes

In the aftermath of the #Rhodesmustfall campaign, on Saturday April 4, 2015, the statue of Paul Kruger in Church Square was vandalized with green paint. Economic Freedom Fighter supporters later rallied, holding placards that read: “Remove the ancestors of apartheid.” In response, prominent right-wing Afrikaners declared that the “volk” are under threat and that the removal of “their” heritage was part of a “Boer genocide” by the black majority. Under the apartheid regime, the heritage of the City of Tshwane exclusively benefited one section of the population, was used to undermine the “Other,” and further entrenched racial divides. Now, twenty years after the establishment of democracy, the city’s heritage sector still struggles to benefit all members of the society and to reflect their pasts. This paper examines the government’s role in Tshwane’s post-1994 heritage “transformation” of the capital’s key public spaces and the possibilities that agonism affords the future of this contested past.

University of Cambridge, Centre for urban Conflict Research