Perspectives on Post-Colonialism in South Africa: the Voortrekker Monument's Classical Heritage
This chapter examines material culture by looking at the Voortrekker Monument in South Africa. It shows how the history of its design and creation maps the multi-faceted history of colonialism in South Africa, and considers and problematises how the monument and its Pretoria counterpart, the Union Building, draw on Greek and Roman models including the Parthenon Sculptures, Trajan's Column, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The Voortrekker Monument can variously be ‘read’ as an emblem of liberation struggle (Boers against British), as an expression of the ideology of apartheid, as a transmission of fascist symbolism, and as a statement of the new South Africa's openness to its own histories. In comparing the two sites, the chapter develops the view that the British Empire claimed to inherit the mantle of Roman imperialism and Greek democracy by expressing them in the Union Building, while the Voortrekker Monument has a post-colonial energy in its desire for self-expression and its communication of a shaping event in the cultural memory.
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