24 Nov 2022
The statue of the German Schutztruppen commander Curt von Francois was removed yesterday morning from its place in front of the Windhoek municipality. The city council had voted at the end of October to move the statue to the Windhoek City Museum.
"By doing this we are removing a lie," the chairperson of the city's cultural heritage committee, Job Amupanda, told journalists. "Curt von Francois is referred to on the plaques of the monument as the founder of the city of Windhoek. Yet it is proven that Nama and Herero had settled here long before his arrival."
Leaving the statue in place and adding information panels had also been discussed, Amupanda said when asked by NamibiaFocus. "The intention of the proponents was to encourage public discussion about the past. Quite sensible."
But there were concerns, he said. "The majority felt that many Namibians may feel hurt if von Francois continues to occupy a prominent place in the public space," he said. "Some even called for the statue to be disposed of," Amupanda said. "So we found a compromise: The statue will be placed in the City Museum. That's a place where people deal with the past."
Curt von Francois had built the fortifications of the Old Fortress in 1890 on a hilltop about 500 metres from the present town hall (see NamibiaFocus article on Windhoek's history). He is considered controversial mainly because of his ruthless actions against the Nama leader of the time, Hendrik Witbooi. His attack on the Hornkranz settlement also claimed the lives of women and children.
The dismantling of the statue began at around 9.15 a.m. and lasted about one and a half hours. First, workers removed the plaques. Then they wrapped the statue in bubble wrap. Finally, a mobile crane lifted it onto the back of a van. Around 200 journalists and other interested Windhoek residents followed the action. Mayor Sade Gawanas was also present.
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