By Nkosingiphile Dladla
The University of Free State (UFS) has decided to relocate the statue of the last President of the Independent Orange Free State, Marthinus Theunis Steyn, from its Bloemfontein campus to the War Museum.
This was stated in the email from the institution to students and that of UFS’s spokesperson Lacea Loader to staff members on Friday, 23rd November 2018.
According to the vice-chancellor (VC) and rector, Prof. Francis Petersen, in his comment dated 16th Nov. 2018 on the Mail & Guardian, “In January 2018, the University launched an integrated transformation, and the statue was identified as priority by the work stream dealing with ‘names, symbols and spaces’.”
“The decision of the Council follows a recommendation made by the Special Task Team in a report to Prof Francis Petersen, that the statue should be relocated to the War Museum,” read the email from UFS News/UV-Nuus.
“Today’s (Friday, 23rd November 2018) decision to approve the relocation of the statue follows careful consideration and a robust discussion by the Council,” said Prof. Petersen as quoted by the email to the students.
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It is furthermore written in this email that the Task Team, which was appointed by the VC earlier this year, had the duty to develop and implement a framework on engaging with a process to review the position of the statue in front of the main building on the Bloemfontein Campus. They had considered four options during the review process:
- Retention of the statue in its current position;
- Reinterpretation of the statue and the space around it;
- Relocation of the statue on campus and;
- Relocation of the statue to a site off campus.
There was a review process that began in April 2018, ending with a two-month public participation from 9th July to 9th September 2018. Prof Petersen said that the relocation of the statue to the War Museum will best serve the University’s vision for the future.
“This includes ensuring that the UFS is a place where everyone feels welcome, where diversity is encouraged and celebrated, where concepts such as decolonialisation are challenged in an academic and realistic way, and where integration is accomplished in a holistic manner-as reflected in the ITP,” said Prof Petersen as quoted by the email. TOJ
Reporting by Nkosingiphile Dladla in Durban; Editing by Gaby Ndongo in Johannesburg
Feature image: The statue of Marthinus Theunis Steyn in the University of Free State as seen in front of the main building of the Bloemfontein Campus.
Photo obtained from UFS official Twitter account.