Namibians want apartheid era monument removed from the beach
Erected in 1978 as an appeal to keep the town and beach clean. Initiated by Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers, who respectively settled here in 1969 and 1971 as two of the first permanent residents of Henties Bay. Picture: Henties Bay Tourism Association

(LUANDA, 3 june 2020): Local residents of The Henties Bay, a coastal hamlet in Western Namibia has demanded a symbol of shame and apartheid be removed.

The Bay community wants the infamous ‘gallows’ to go, which the petitioners say represent a dark era in Namibian history.

Human Rights activists have repeatedly said that this monument is making a ‘mockery of black pain’ and should have been removed 30 years ago itself when Namibia became a free nation.

Erected during apartheid regime 42 years ago, when Namibia was under South Africa, was considered as an appeal and warning to keep the beach and town clean.

Local activist Lebbeus Hashikutuwa has started an online petition seeking the removal of the shameful remembrance. The petition is gaining momentum according to the site.

‘Simply unacceptable’

“The Henties Bay municipality must take it down or we will do it for them. It is simply unacceptable that we still have an object that represents white imperialism, colonialism, lynching and slavery in our public space,” he is quoted as saying to neweralive.na

Activists say, historically, the gallows were used for public hanging and lynching of black people across the world.

According to local historical information, Frank Atkinson and Willie Cilliers who settled in 1969 and 1971 are considered the ‘first’ permanent residents of the bay, erected the structure.

Those who want the monument to be removed say, thousands of Namibians died for freedom during the apartheid era and the structure glorifies the perpetrators who inflicted such pain.

‘Should be in Museum’

The ‘gallows’ considered as an artefact-has historical value, but should be in a Museum rather than in its present place on the bay-people opposed to it say.

“History needs to be taught but this overshadows the real history of Namibia and should not be allowed. Not only should they be removed but we should do away with colonial street and city names. Allowing them to grace in public space is a twisted idea of reconciliation.”  adds Hashikutuva.

Activists opine that the ‘gallows’ is a serious assault on the trauma and an attempt aimed at whitewashing Namibia’s painful history.

The local community believes it was erected to warn black people to keep clear of the beach.

‘Signatures needed’

Mayor of Henties Bay- Herman Honeb has admitted that although the monument is part of the town, ‘it represents the apartheid era when blacks were killed by the whites’

“Tourists find it very offensive and it should not be tolerated”.

The Mayor says, they need overwhelming signatures to table a motion and have it removed and will strongly consider it. However, there is opposition for its removal, mainly from whites according to local reports.

Henties Bay is a popular tourist destination for fishing and motorsport enthusiasts.