Shaka statue an indignity

I LANDED at King Shaka Airport in La Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, for the first time on Sunday May 30.

I LANDED at King Shaka Airport in La Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal, for the first time on Sunday May 30.

My daughter, well aware of my interest in national monuments and art, immediately pulled me aside to show me the sculpture of King Shaka.

If she were deliberately trying to tease out another lesson on art and history, she succeeded.

My first comment, among many others, inspired a long discussion. Where is the great warrior and strategist in this depiction, I asked?

Unless I am certain of a deliberate agenda to undermine the context of black experience, I hope I always convey respect for artists and their work.

I know little, if anything, about Andries Botha and he ought not to read this as a negative critique of his work.

What must come into question, though, is how was he briefed and by whom?

Commissioned art works, unless entirely motivated by the genius of the artist, have all the opportunity for the commissioner to convey historical context as a guide to the work.

The indignity of pulling down this work of art is as soul destroying as pulling down King Shaka himself.

And it is especially so for black people.

This incident is just one of many that reveals less of a mistake as much as it reveals a leadership enslaved by the belief that there is white superiority in all things.

Mike Stainbank,

Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg

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