Spend on living institutions

Watching the ceremony at the Samora Machel monument, I could not but think about just how many people actually visit the site each year and how much work went into cleaning it up for the ceremony. We have many of these grossly overpriced monuments all over the country, a lot of which were built in the past 20 years or so. Are they really attracting visitors and I don’t mean four or five people a month? It seems that whenever an anniversary comes about, there is a flurry of activity in getting the place restored and more often than not removing grazing animals and repairing damage. It would seem that locals who would to some degree hoped to have benefited from the siting of the monument in their area are less than inspired by the person or persons being honoured there.

The Saartjie Baartman monument is one that comes to mind in this regard. So instead of erecting these “dead” monuments, why don’t we spend this sort of money on projects like the main library in Port Elizabeth? Renaming it the Saartjie Baartman Library would at least highlight this name to all who visit and use it, and the money is then put to good use in extending education which is so sorely needed. These days, naming buildings and facilities after politicians and some struggle heroes can be fraught with danger. I mean, can you imagine naming a university’s department of ethics building after our giggling president? But there are people we can honour even now, such as Archbishop Tutu, Adam Small and others.