Grocott’s Mail readers should be informed that the Settler City’s “crowning glory”, the Settlers Monument atop Gunfire Hill, may shortly be no more.
The CEO of the National Arts Festival and Executive Director of the Grahamstown Foundation, Tony Lankester, has confirmed that a name change is being considered both for the Monument building and the Grahamstown Foundation.
The proposed name changes follow the gazetting of a new name for the city on the eve of last year’s Grahamstown Festival. The Festival responded immediately by adopting the name of Makhanda Festival even before the name change became effective.
The Minister of Arts & Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, has since announced his final decision that the name of Grahamstown is now Makhanda but the decision is now the subject of a court challenge.
It is believed that the Department of Arts & Culture, which is now the Festival’s main funder, is also behind the move to change the name of the Settlers Monument and the Grahamstown Foundation and that the Department wants the changes to be made before 2020 which is the bicentenary of the arrival of the 1820 Settlers.
Responses to the proposed renaming of the Monument and the Grahamstown Foundation is mixed and the Port Elizabeth-based, 1820 Settlers Association, has itself reserved comment on the matter.
The Monument was officially dedicated on 13 July 1974 for use “for all that is good and for the healing of a nation.” The dedication is reflected in the inscription around the Monument’s fountain “That all may have life and have it more abundantly”.
The concept of a “living monument” is mainly attributed to the influence of Rhodes University’s Prof Guy Butler who also originated the idea that the Monument should be used for the purposes of an Arts Festival. The Monument’s main auditorium is named after Butler.
No official plans have as yet been announced for the bicentenary of the 1820 Settlers in 2020.
Response from Festival CEO Tony Lankester: