The sculpture, which revealed both the new and old South African flag, depending on which angle it was viewed from, was carefully constructed by Cronje-Honiball more than 20 years ago.
Camille Cronje-Honiball, the artist behind the controversial mural which has since been removed from the Durban Botanic Gardens, explains her use of the old South African flag.
The artwork, which, until recently, adorned one of the walls in the Botanic Gardens, elicited outrage from members of the public and political organisations, who bemoaned the use of the provocative apartheid-era flag.
Artwork featuring old South African flag criticised for years
According to Cronje-Honiball, the mural was not meant to offend anyone and was in fact intended to demonstrate the transition from apartheid to a democratic South Africa. However, the eThekwini municipality says that it had received numerous complaints over the years about the artwork’s use of the old flag.
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The final straw was when the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) issued an ultimatum on Monday, calling for the artwork’s removal within 48 hours, saying:
“The old flag belongs [in] the dustbin of history like the system of apartheid it represented”
Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the head of the eThekwini Municipal Parks, Recreation and Culture, maintained that he had previously warned the Botanic Gardens of the flag’s sensitivity, saying:
“When I investigated I was told that it was an initiative by the Botanic Gardens management, not Parks. They thought the artwork showed the transition from the old to the new era, but I told them that you must be careful when it comes to a flag since it is a national symbol and therefore it is better if they remove it.”
Artist disappointed mural was misunderstood
Speaking to IOL, Cronje-Honiball said it was disappointing that the artwork had been taken out of context, arguing that it was in no way meant to inflame racial tension or bring about pain. In fact, quite the opposite; she said that the artwork was a positive commentary on South Africa.
The sculpture, which revealed both the new and old South African flag, depending on which angle it was viewed from, was carefully constructed by Cronje-Honiball almost 20 years ago.
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The artist explained that the old South African flag was painted on vertical strips of white granite, known as Edelweiss, which in German means pure or noble white.
The new flag, which was painted on black strips of granite, was symbolic of positive racial interaction. Cronje-Honiball cited former president Nelson Mandela’s vision of a rainbow nation as inspiration for the piece, saying:
“If we learn from nature, black and white could create a harmonious rainbow nation – the pot of precious gold at the end of Mandela’s rainbow.”