South Africa: How to Honour the Fallen in Ways That Will Enshrine Their Memory

Striking Lonmin miners gather on a hill near the Marikana mine before the shooting in 2012 (file photo).
analysis

The seventh anniversary of the killings at Marikana leads us to contemplate the purposes of physical memorials that insist citizens embrace the larger meanings of events - whether it be the Vietnam War or the dispersal or death of an entire population.

'I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley

With the seventh anniversary of the killings at Marikana now upon us, there will be many retellings and remembrances of those deadly days near a platinum mine - in newspapers, online, via social media, and, of course, on radio and television, since...

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