Emlotheni Memorial Park Disgrace

Located at the Corner of Limba and Nqadini Roads, New Brighton, the
Emlotheni Memorial Park is dedicated to the memory of six
anti-apartheid activists, Daniel Ndongeni, Nolali Mpentse, Wilson
Kayingo, Samuel Jonas, Zinakile Mkaba and trade unionist Vuyisile Mini,
these were the first men to be executed for an act of defiance against
the apartheid forces in 1964. The site on which the memorial rests has
been a public square for years, often the place where defiance rallies
took place. Emlotheni means a ‘lot’ or ‘erf’ in Xhosa.

Emlotheni Memorial Park was officially opened on 27 June 1998 by the
then Deputy President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki and the first black
mayor in South Africa, Nceba Faku.

The original memorial stone on the monument reads; “This monument is a
fitting tribute to the heroism, selflessness, courage and patriotism
displayed by the gallant fighters who are buried here as the first
detachment of the glorious people’s army (Umkhonto We Sizwe) to be
butchered by the apartheid forces. As a present generation and for
those to come we will forever remain indebted to their supreme
sacrifice for freedom, justice and democracy in our country.

A memorial stone unveiled by the MEC Ms Abraham-Ntantiso on 19 March
2008 reads; “Countrymen!
Hang your lamps and lay down those haversacks.
Here let us sing the sad songs to our children for whom compatriots
died singing those noble ideas in the face of death.

Henceforth this rock
will refresh our pledge to those departed and
their grieved beloved when we sang, choking from tears for such costs,
sprinkling the soil of their motherland for which they sacrificed so
much. Yes! Let us remember our promise no matter what.

We must remember those
that fell at New Brighton Station, those who
hanged like corn cobs in the gallows, those cancelled in Maduna Street,
in Northern Areas, in our townships’ running battles.

Countrymen! Remember
those who flew without wings from Sanlam Building,
those who were barbecued at Nkomati, at St Georges Strand, at Post
Chalmers. Pollen scattered on foreign land, comets scattered overland,
their bones never put to rest, to capture our fading memories.

This stone will be a
reminder that their names and efforts and
sacrifice shall not dissipate like mist at dawn. (Text By: Mzi Mahola)

Wonderful words and a fitting tribute, BUT………

In the short space of time since the erection of the Emlotheni Memorial
Park it has been vandalised and turned into a dumping ground.

On a recent visit to the
area we noticed that:

This behaviour makes me mad and throws up a myriad of questions – some
of them answerable and some of them destined to remain a mystery
solvable only by greater minds than mine.

The presence of the unfinished structures at the entrance to the
Memorial Park tells me that there must have been some thought around
the question of sustainability and long term marketing of the memorial.
Maybe these structures were for curio shops for the expected hordes of
tourists to the site. Clearly the tourists did not arrive in the
numbers that were projected when funds were siphoned out of some poor
unsuspecting government department’s slush fund.

The failure to generate enough tourists to the memorial can be viewed
as an opportunity to go to Plan B.

The area around Emlotheni is a typical township area with mangy dogs
ready to bite the first foreign smelling individual they come across,
snotty nosed photogenic smiling children, poverty, waste
strewn and
pretty much of a no go area for your bleeding heart Port Elizabeth
approximation of a Kugel. Fact – Kugels and their ilk are great
monetary supporters of the downtrodden masses.

What the community in the area surrounding Emlotheni need are the
basics for survival – food and jobs. I am sure that if I had to find
myself in their position I would also not give a rats arse about a
memorial to some fallen heroes that are only worth a brightly covered
T-Shirt to me, and that, only every four years just before elections.
Have you ever tried eating a T-Shirt or asking a T-Shirt for a job?

Just up from the Emlotheni Memorial Park, in Limba Road, is the Bantu
Church of Christ
who have an active community outreach and

As far as I am concerned Plan B could encompass the following: Whoever
‘owns’ the Emlotheni Memorial Park should finish building the
structures at the entrance, restore the Memorial to it’s original
state, allow the Bantu Church of Christ to continue their feeding
program from one of the units at the entrance and turn the other into a
curio type shop offering an ‘authentic’ township experience. Either the
owners of Emlotheni must then pay the Bantu Church of Christ to look
after and maintain the Memorial Park or allow them to market the area
and the memorial as they see fit.

Bishop Bolana from the Bantu
Church in New Brighton has previously
called on the Municipality to employ community members to act as
security guards and caretakers at heritage sites such as the Emlotheni
memorial site.

Mama Majola, the octogenarian
Mother of Cricket SA CEO, Gerald Majola
organised a clean up initiative on Wednesday 26 August.

The immediate community and society as a whole needs to stop relying on
people such as Mama Majola and her Golden Age Club to continue to clean
up memorials such as these. It is not fitting that Mama and her fellow
octogenarians have to clean up a mess made by community members that
are a quarter of her age and younger.

Maybe, just maybe our local government will gain the strength to tackle
the Smiling Irish Slumlord once they
have cleaned up the Emlotheni Memorial Park.

Should you be able to assist Mama
Majola in any way, whilst the politicians and municipality try to hot
air their way out of responsibility in this NON-election year, then
give her a ring on 041 454 1287.

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