History Provides Context And Identity

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay’s stance on South African history (Daily News, July 5) appears to be ambiguous. On the one hand, he exhorts the “study of our beloved history.” But then he advocates erasing history by changing the names of streets and the cities.

Name-changing as an attempt to erase the past is shortsighted and imprudent. It is also an insult to whoever is chosen as the named beneficiary because it amounts to a second-hand tribute, like re-gifting. Yet Mr Jazbhay would have us believe that by renaming “Durban,” the “thorns of the racist past” will be removed and, somehow, reconciliation will follow.

Besides renaming being a very expensive exercise, the “thorns” which Mr Jazbhay detests would still be in evidence wherever he chose to look. Logically, then, he should advocate the demolition of all buildings that were erected in the “racist” era, starting with the City Hall and the GPO. Then he would need to clear out all statues and relics of those hateful times. When he is done with that, he would need to cease using the English language – the medium of the “thorns” era he so detests.

The past can be reviewed and revised but it cannot be erased. Heritage and history provide context and identity. The significance of the present era would be lost without the history that preceded it.

By the way, Mr Jazbhay, Sir Benjamin D’Urban was never a governor of Natal. He served as Cape governor between 1834 and 1837.

Sent into The Daily News and published, 7 July 2018.

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