THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA CAME INTO BEING EXACTLY 100 DAYS AGO, ON 31 MAY 1910.
51 years later, on 31 May 1961, the country was declared a Republic. South Africa ceased celebrating Republic Day every year on 31 May after it was handed over to the Black Marxist majority in April 1994.
A Mysterious Coincidence
On 31 May 2001, exactly 40 years after South Africa was declared a Republic, a rather ironic occurrence happened in the city centre in Pretoria. The Strijdom Square monument was mysteriously demolished. The monument, which was unveiled in 1972, consisted of a huge dome covering a bust of former prime minister Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom. The entire monument was totally destroyed leaving a crater the size of a rugby field. The bust of the former Apartheid leader broke in two and lay ominously in the centre of the huge hole. See the media report of this incident, “Strijdom's head rolls on old Republic Day”. Note the sarcastic headlines!
When the incident occurred my first reaction was that the monument had been blown up by explosives, in an apparent gesture by our new (7-year old) Marxist rulers that they were now in control, and that they could do exactly as pleased in the country. By 2001, the city centre of Pretoria was already looking like Hammanskraal. The Strijdom Square monument was definitely not on the government’s list of favourite places, -- thanks to the crazed actions on 15 November 1988, when a 23-year old man by the name of Barend Hendrik Strydom, decided to do some shooting practice on a number innocent black pedestrians in the vicinity of the monument. Click here to read the story.
The collapse of the structure was later blamed on structural fatigue and neglect. Rumours that a bomb caused the damage floated around for a while, but no one made a big issue about it, and neither did the media – as far as I can recall. The fact that the monument was destroyed on the 40th anniversary of apartheid SA's Republic Day was shrugged off as a mere coincidence.
An interesting 360-degree view of what the Strydom Square in Pretoria looks like today can be seen at this link.
The question on my mind right now is why should we remember 31 May? Has this specific date any significance at all for people living in this country in the year 2010? My feelings at this very moment is, --- let’s bury it for good!
31 May, -- whether it is celebrated or remembered for Union Day, Republic Day, or whatever day, will always be linked to the day an apartheid monument collapsed in 2001 in the capital city of South Africa, and in due course of this remembrance, the name Barend Hendrik Strydom will most definitely pop up!
This was the reason why I was rather reluctant to post this article, and why I don’t want to make a big issue of the date, 31 May, -- for the same reason why I posted nothing last year on this date. So next year in 2011, if I’m still around, there will definitely be no remembrance of 31 May!
A significant date: 16 December