Friday, 15 October 2010

The Elephant in the Living Room

I must admit I'm not a fan of politicians. In my somewhat limited experience "Politician" is just another word for "Self-promotion". Its in my thesaurus as a synonym for narcissism, egotism and hegemony. And I'm afraid to say, my already jaundiced view of politics just took a turn for the worse.
1 of the 3 Elephant Sculpture due to be torn down for political reasons
A couple of years ago, the City of Durban embarked on a R500-million upgrade of the Warwick Avenue Interchange. Its an incredibly busy junction at the entrance to the city, with a confluence of highways, taxi routes, and pedestrians from the local markets and bus ranks. Its already become a bit of a political hot potato, with various self-interest groups jockeying for position by using the market situated in the middle as a pawn.

In 2009, an internationally acclaimed local sculptor Andries Botha, was commissioned to create a sculpture of 3 elephants at the entrance to the Warwick Junction, at a cost of R1.5-million to the tax-payer.

Work seemed to be progressing quite well, and looked to be on track to be completed in time for the start of the 2010 Football World Cup here in South Africa. The sculpture was shaping up to be quite an impressive site as you drive into the city.  That was up until an ANC (African National Congress) government official decided that the elephant, being a symbol of the opposition IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) was not a suitable symbol to use. Work was stopped, and the sculpture now seems to be scheduled to be destroyed.
A view of the 3 Elephant Sculpture at the entrance to Durban
 The R1.5-million will no doubt still have to be paid, because the contract with the artist still stands. But what would have been a grand site at the entrance to the city will be reduced to rubble. All for the sake of insecure, egotistical politicians with an eye on their own self-interest, at the (literal) expense of the people that elected them.

You can sign the petition here to stop this violation of the freedom of expression.


When will the elephant in the living room stop being ignored (in this case - politicians that have their own selfish, corrupt interests at heart) and this piece of artwork be allowed to be completed.
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