He stands right in the centre of town, around him walked those he oppressed, subjugated and violated. He stands looming over what he had created, a legacy of loss and brokenness. He stands knowing full well what he has caused, taunting those he affected as they walk past him with his valiant gait and regal expression. You have no women rivals, they have not been memorialised, they do not stand above their people, watching guard, they are not honoured. You’ll see , your time will come. One day you will be shaken, you will be replaced.
Everyday I walk past this fucking statue on my way to work. I’m already in a kak mood because I have to take a full, claustrophobic taxi at seven in the morning to get to my low paying job where I have to cater to a certain clientele who do not give a fuck about my life or who I am. To them I am just another brown girl, whose sole existence is to cater to their needs. Fuck I hate capitalism, I hate that my people have been oppressed for decades and I still see it where I live. I feel like I’m suffocating, I can’t take this feeling of being helpless as another cog in the system, as an oppressed person who just has to live day by day, witnessing crime and poverty in my family, in my environment, in my existence. I have to go to work and see what has been built on the land that should have been ours. We deserve all that has been taken from us, the land included. This fucking statue on my way to work just makes it worse, Jan Van Riebeck, the naai, the reason behind it all. Everyday I say I’m going to do something about it, that I’m going to destroy it, vandalise it, my oppressor needs to face the consequences. I’m going to fucking decapitate this naai. He will pay. Tomorrow night I’m taking my father’s angle grinder and decapitating the shit out of this statue. I’m going to kill this statue and everything it stands for, its toppling will be a symbol of the system it has created toppling.
I am so proud of what I did, my legacy continues. I am unbeatable, I will never fall.
Daddy bought my story about work needing to borrow his angle grinder for some kind of renovation. I’m mos not capable of doing anything remotely rebellious, because I’m a woman, and “good women” don’t do things like decapitate their oppressors. Little does he know I’m the furthest thing from a “good woman” especially when I’m spending nights at my girlfriend’s house. That’s another thing they thought stood for these colonisers, for repressing women, our sexuality, our voice, our existence. Tonight Jan will pay, and when I cut off his gevriet my ancestors will sing, they will rejoice in my victory. The women that came before me will smile proudly.
At nights I stand, in the middle of the city, looming over the chaos I created and reflect on my doings. I know people hate me, do I feel bad? no. I did what I needed to do, everything around me is a result of my bravery, you see all the cars? You see all the shopping malls? All the economic activity? That was me. Nobody but me, so the next time you little activists with your decolonisation come for me, remember what I have done. If I had been alive in this time, things would look different, believe me. These eyesores of people sleeping on the streets, my streets would not exist. I’m not saying we should kill them, but I’m saying they should be removed, somewhere far, somewhere far from the city where I stand. I don’t want to see them. I must admit that I am starting to worry these days, these decolonisers are coming for us. They came for my close friend, Rhodes and I’m getting worried. My supporters need me, they need a symbol of hope, that one day this country could possibly turn into what I imagined and paved the way for.
It’s a little past 4am. I was at Keletso’s house, getting some motivation for the night. She offered to help me, but I did not want to risk her safety, she’s already got a charge looming for offenses related to her activism during Fees Must Fall. So here I am, ready, my angle grinder in my backpack, my boots on, dark jeans and a hoodie, my dreads are tied back and I’ve got a beanie on my head. If ever there was a rebel outfit, I’ve got it on. I’m feeling pumped, could be the two glasses of cheap whiskey making me feel ready. You’ve got this Dominique. As I walk towards Jan, down from Keletso’s place in Adderley Street I feel my ancestors pushing me forward, my Khoi heritage, my slave heritage, everything that has culminated into my existence now leads me to face my oppressor. The man who symbolises the violence and destruction that is colonialism will pay. I approach the fucker, ready for combat.
JAN AND DOMINIQUE
“To what do I owe the pleasure?” Says Jan in a sarcastic tone with a hint of trepidation. He can see Dominique is angry and appears as if her anger is directed at him. He has seen this anger before.
Dominique decides to indulge him, start with the pleasantries, build the anticipation until the moment of decapitation. “I’m Dominique Jacobs, and I am a part of the people you violated and oppressed. Isn’t it a nice night?”
“Are you a decoloniser? Are you here to spit insults at me, like your other little activist friends, if so, go ahead, you can’t touch me.” Jan says, feigning confidence.
“Wow! I like your lingo, “Decoloniser” nice! Where did you hear that?” I am indeed one of those, I’m sure you know that our hatred for you runs deep. I’m sure you’re aware of your leadership’s effects. How you fucked up those whose ancestors were subjected to your violence? Or do I need to remind you?”
“Why do you people live in the past, Jesus. I did what I had to do, without me none of this would be possible” He says as he gestures to the city around him”
“Shut the fuck up! You will never be able to fathom what you have done, how your legacy continues to hang over us, pushing us down, making it impossible to escape our lives of displacement, poverty and violence. You took our land away, putting us far from the city, far from you. Maybe that’s what you wanted, you knew that if we were around you, you would not be able to stand.”
“You think I fear you people? You who were subservient to me. I will not apologise, what I did was needed and my supporters will tell you so.”
“You gonna pay tonight you devil” Dominique takes out her angle grinder and starts it up.
“Stop! Stop! I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t fucking talk to me! You’re not sorry, none of you are, your fake apologies won’t help you now.” Dominique is ready, she plans how she’s going to climb the statue to decapitate him. “Fuck, how am I going to do this” She whispers. In that moment she sees her plan failing, she’s going to struggle to climb it, she misjudged.its height. She decides to phone Keletso. ‘You have insufficient funds to make this call, please-”. “Ja, hou jou fokken bek” Dominique panics.
Jan sees a glimmer of hope, the girl is struggling, maybe she won’t be able to do it. Maybe his legacy will continue to live on.
“I see you’re struggling over there, I knew a woman like you wouldn’t be able to defeat me.”
“Hey! What are you doing there? What’s that in your hand”
“Fuck..fuck..fuck, I don’t need this.”
“Hi sir, I’m uh- just admiring this beautiful statue. I have a project for university to study as many statues as I can and their historical significance.” A weak attempt at fooling a security guard, who with his baton and muscular build, could do some serious damage.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know your type. I saw what you did recently. You’re here to destroy the property of the City of Cape Town”
Jan is relieved, someone to his rescue to ensure his safety
“Uh, no, not at all sir. I’m not one of those”
“What’s in your hand then?”
Dominique panics, she sees herself being attacked and thrown into a jail cell for the night but she also refuses to not follow through with her plan. This man is black, he has also undergone the trauma of colonialism, surely she can reason with him she thinks. He is young, hopefully also angry.”
“Where do you live sir?”
“Khayelitsha. Why are you asking me such nonsense? What’s in your hand?”
“Sir, do you earn enough doing what you do? Was this your dream?”
Bandile pauses. What kind of questions is this girl asking him. His dream since he was a young boy was to be a poet. Keorapetse Kgositsile is his hero, he had always wanted to be like him. Have his poetry be read internationally, he sees himself travelling to Greece, to Nairobi, he would be a household name. His poetry which speaks about loss, life, history and the future would be passed on from generation to generation.
“My dream is to be a poet. I don’t earn much because I can’t find work, so I work nights patrolling the city. Why is this important? Tell me what you are holding in your hand!”
“Tell me, do you believe that if the past was different, if our ancestors were given a chance to live freely, dream and hope, you would be in this position?”
Bandile is hesitant to have this conversation with this girl, he’s on to her. He knows what she’s doing, but he is conflicted. He does believe in what she’s saying, he believes that if his situation was different, if his great grandparents’ situation was different maybe he would be performing in Amsterdam tonight, instead of policing homeless people and watching cars.
“What are you trying to say, what do you want from me?”
“I need you to help me up, to give me a lift to the top of this statue so we can decapitate the man who symbolises the violence and ugliness that continues to stop you from being a poet and me from earning enough to save up to go to university.”
Bandile takes time to think, no one is around, he wouldn’t get into trouble and he is angry but he has a duty to uphold the safety of the city. Perhaps him helping her decapitate him would be making the city safer.
“Okay, I’ll help you.”
“Are you sure about that?” says Jan. “You look like you’re devoted to your job of upholding the sanctity of this fine city.”
That’s all Jan had to say to get him fired up.
“Let’s go, quickly.” He cups his hands in position for Dominique to stand on them.
“I would think twice about this you know…”
“Shut the fuck up” Bandile and Dominique say in unison.
“Dominique takes the angle grinder, its noise satisfies her, she can feel the blood rushing through her body, through her hands. This is the moment she has been waiting for, the moment where she fights back against years of damage.”
“FUUUUUUCK YOU” She screams as she decapitates him.
His head falls with a loud thud, echoing through the silence of the early hours of the morning. It’s done, the statue that stood in the middle of the city, so proudly, so smugly, standing strong. Symbolising the strength and immovable effects of whom it represented. Tonight it took a blow, and slowly, its doings will take blow by blow, until it topples.
Dominique climbs down from Bandile’s lift. She’s panting, half crying, half laughing. Bandile stares at the head, gleaming. He sees it as hope for the future, for his dream, if they could so easily topple the statue, he sees a time when everything will be toppled.
“We did it.” Dominique pants.
“We did it.”
“Cigarette?” Dominique offers.