A public practical-theological response and proposal to decolonisation discourse in South Africa: From #YourStatueMustFall and #MyStatueShouldBeErected to #BothOurStatuesShouldBeErected
The years 2015 and 2016 were marked by violent protests at South African universities. While the focus of many of the protests was on access to university education, an equally major theme was the decolonisation of universities. University statues, such as that of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town and many others, were pulled down or defaced. Within the discourse on decolonisation of curriculum, statues were viewed as symbols of maintaining and preserving the colonial hegemony that is being sustained by a Western or Eurocentric curriculum taught at universities. These developments led to a national discourse, which, among others, highlighted universities as spaces of exclusion because of residual colonial features. These protests became represented by hashtags such as #RhodesMustFall. These protests indicated a conflict and contest to eradicate the remnants of colonialism, as represented by statues (#YourStatueMustFall), which some protesters argued should be replaced by symbols of black liberation and anti-apartheid iconic symbols (#MyStatueShouldBeErectedInstead). For an integrated South Africa, with its constitutional ideals of a rainbow nation, a discourse of coexistence is required (#BothOurStatuesShouldBeErected). In this situation, a contextually engaged reformatory public practical theology is required to contribute to a constructive discourse and coexistence.