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Paying Tribute: The First Public Memorials To The Victims Of The Liberation Movements

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the Umkhonto memorial in Mamelodi, erected by political party in tribute to their members during the final days of apartheid era, it was unveiled in what is now called Solomon Mahlangu Square on 6 April 1991. This commemorative sculpture is of immense historical importance as it constitutes perhaps the first such memorial officially erected in public space by one of the liberation movements. It is a cultural product testifying to a crucial moment in South Africa's history, namely the fragile transition period of early 1990s, when a fundamental transformation of socio-political order was in sight. It was a time of exceptional tension and political violence and simultaneously a time of negotiation over a peaceful transfer of power from white minority to black majority rule, but also, author argues, over claims to political power in the new order and over the symbolic power of representing the past.

Keywords: liberation movements; paying tribute; political power; public memorial; Solomon Mahlangu Square; South Africa; Umkhonto memorial; victims



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