Gugulethu memorial monument planned

Dr Mzwandile Plaatjie, Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha and former Sports MEC Whitey Jacobs at the envisaged site of the Gugulethu Memorial Monument.

Plans to erect a Gugulethu Memorial Monument at the corner of Steve Biko Avenue near the police station are at an advanced stage.

Head of a task team planning the erection of the memorial monument, Dr Mzwandile Plaatjie visited the site on Tuesday afternoon accompanied by Deputy Minister in Agriculture, Mcebisi Skwatsha and former MEC of Cultural Affairs and Spor, Whitey Jacobs.

Dr Plaatjie, who last year was pivotal in the launch of the Gugulethu emblem, said this planned monument was important as it was not about political figures but about general people’s contribution to the township’s and national history.

“For instance the late Afrikaner poet Ingrid Jonker’s famous poem Die Kind was inspired by an event that took place in the then Nyanga West. She wrote the poem after visiting a police station to view the body of someone who had been shot dead in his mother’s arms by apartheid police,” said Dr Plaatjie.

He said this monument would be an educational space that would enable the community to learn about the past and possibly be a “melting pot of ideas” to create new ideas to build the country.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mcebisi Skwatsha, said the monument would serve as “a historical gate to Gugulethu.”

“This township has a rich history that needs to reserved and retold to generations. I am happy that it focuses on telling stories of ordinary people who made a difference.”

Jacobs, who is chairperson of Heritage Education and Research Project (HERP), said he was excited to be part of this project as they believe in preserving history.

“A community that erases its past is doomed, generations after will know nothing hence it is important that we encourage efforts like this,” Jacobs said.

Recently there has been an outcry about the destruction of grave sites, the Gugulethu Seven Memorial and invasion of initiation sites.

Dr Plaatjie said they are aware of such mishaps but are determined to involve communities to “own up to this monument”.

“We want people to identify with Gugulethu Memorial Monument and defend it with pride. It is through continued education and awareness that people will learn to respect these places,” he said.

Task team spokesman Mbulelo Mpofu said the construction of the monument will begin soon and it is expected to be officially opened on Heritage Day in September.