I'm just back from a recent trip to South Africa. It was interesting to meet Afrikaners who had grandparents who were in the British Boer War concentration camps. The memory is still very vivid in the conciousness of the people as a whole.
Some of the statistics are indeed horrendous. Particualrly from Kircheners scorched policy onwards era. There are several conflicting accounts in terms of numbers murdered. Somewhere between 10% and 25% of the total Boer civilian population deliberately targetted and killed). At least 28,000 killed in the camps themselves, 22,000 of whom were children killed through forced starvation and inevitable disease. As one group (mainly children) died, the next were brought in to experience the exact same fate over and over again. A truly horrific act of barbarism. The intent was never hidden, remove the means for families to survive by burning the ground and killing/taking all livestock, move families into camps to die to force a surrender. Over 25,000 blacks were also murdered in the camps.
What is surprising is the amount of Boer War related memorials that continue to exist in Ireland.
Anglo-Boer Wars war memorial sites in Ireland
The question is, can we be comfortable celebrating and commenmorating what were essentially murder factories and a military campaign based on the open strategy of targetting and killing civilians. I'm not comfortable with in in the exact same way I don't think anyone would be comfortable with memorials to SS Holocaust Camp officers in the middle of O'Connell St.
Obviously a lot of people are quite unaware of the memorials themselves or the events of the Anglo Boer war. If their status was more publicised and exposed I wonder what the reaction would be.
Do I support tearing them al down. Maybe not entirely. Some are exquisite peices of art that could simply be repurposed and rededicated to something noble and worthy. Some should be removed. In the case of Fusiliers Arch in St Stephen's Green, this one has to go imo. Or at the very least sanded/grinded down and repurposed. I don't mind the names of the soliders being repositioned to some other location but the idea of a monument to the killings of 22,000 innocent children in the heart of our city is surely unacceptable.
On the mountain side the battle raged, there was no stop or stay;
Mackin captured Private Burke and Ensign Michael Shea,
Fitzgerald got Fitzpatrick, Brannigan found O’Rourke;
Finnigan took a man named Fay and a couple of lads from Cork.
Sudden they heard McManus shout ‘Hands up or I’ll run you through’
He thought he had a Yorkshire ‘Tyke’ – twas Corporal Donoghue
McGarry took O’Leary, O’Brien got McNamee
That’s how the English fought the Dutch at the Battle of Dundee!
Just to note, this ins't a thread on the whole history of South Africa, the rights or wrongs of the Anglo Boer war, the history of Apartheid, Jacob Zuma or Britains Imperialist past. It's very specific to the Anglo Boer War and our nations ongoing commemoration of it.