Bild-Essays

Ausgabe 19

What's in a name?

Street Names and the Fine Line between Silencing and Predicating History

Seite 80
Isolde de Villiers, Rita Kesselring

The women’s march in 1956 to the Union Buildings in Pretoria ended with thirty minutes of complete silence, as part of the protest against the extension of the Apartheid pass laws to women. Lilian Ngoyi initiated this muted half hour. It was a quest for meditating on what kind of society South Africans aspire to live in.

Muted signs, such as a minute’s (or 30 minutes’) silence, but also the removal of a monument, or the silences in the testimonies of victims and perpetrators before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the mid-1990s, are signifiers for many unresolved societal issues. On the other hand, though, many have tried to give expression to the horrors of the Apartheid past: new monuments have been erected (e.g. the Freedom Park and the Apartheid museum) and many have bravely given words to their experiences under Apartheid rule. Both silence and pred- ication can be the basis for a societal discussion of the past, the present and the future. This article looks at one specific attempt to deal with the past that combines both: silence and predication.