South Africa: As Statues Fall Globally, the University of the Free State Chose a Different Path


The Anton van Wouw statue of Martinus Theunis 'MT' Steyn, president of the independent republic of the Orange Free State from 1896 to 1902, has dominated the main campus of the University of the Free State since it was unveiled on 28 September 1929. The UFS took a different approach to its removal.

The South African statue debate is back in the spotlight again, as statues deemed controversial or offensive are coming down in America and Europe during demonstrations against racism and police violence that have renewed attention on the legacy of injustices. This follows the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

The world has witnessed the toppling of Confederate statues in San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Raleigh, North Carolina in the US, as well as a statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and the statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan, which was removed from outside the Museum of London Docklands in the UK. The statue of Paul Kruger on Church Square in Pretoria was again vandalised with red paint during a #BlackLivesMatter protest, as were the statues in France of...

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