Cape Town - While Sport, Art and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa remains mum on plans to change the name of the Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument (ATM), Western Cape MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais has criticised the proposed move.
According to the ATM director, Michael Jonas, Mthethwa mentioned the plans at the annual signing ceremony of the shareholder compact agreement between the department and all heads and chairs of the public entities that fall under his portfolio on March 10.
“It is correct that the honourable minister of sport, arts and culture, Nathi Mthethwa, on March 10, 2022 said in Pretoria that the ATM’s name must change” said Jonas.
“In response, the institution decided to launch a consultation process to investigate the feasibility of a possible name change.”
He added that they would hold a strategic planning session with the ATM board members on May 26 and 27, followed by a public meeting in Paarl on May 28.
In a statement, Marais asked the Minister to reconsider a name change.
“I want to urge Minister Mthetwa to reconsider the proposed name change of this historically valuable monument. It is time that we start examining how we are spending public funds in the name of social cohesion, if the actions that are being taken will lead to further divides in the country.
“The Afrikaanse Taal Monument was established in 1975 and symbolizes the diversity and growth of the Afrikaans language. It is an important part of our country’s history and the name is directly connected to its origin and meaning. To change the name would take away from the historical value of the Afrikaans language. We must ensure that we do not lose sight of the importance of protecting all our indigenous languages in our aim to give equal access and representation to all,” she said.
In the DSAC performance plan for 2022/23, made public last month, the department announced its intention to speed up the transformation of the naming landscape in the country.
“The pace with which the transformation of the naming landscape is progressing is very slow given the number of names of towns and cities that still reflect South Africa’s colonial and apartheid heritage. The increase in awareness campaigns will assist South Africans and encourage local communities to be actively involved in the process of transforming our naming landscape.”
Mthethwa did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.