A 'Curt' Farewell
A 'Curt' Farewell
Towering over the city of Windhoek stands the statue of Curt von Francois, a man who has been erroneously called the "founder" of Windhoek (historically known as /Ae//Gams by the Nama and Otjomuise by the Ovaherero).
The statue was erected on 18 October 1965 to commemorate the 75 year anniversary of his supposed founding of Windhoek in 1890. This statue was erected and commemorated a mere 7 years after the forced removals of Windhoek’s black population from the Old Location to whiten and segregate the city.
Continuing to keep Curt von Francois on his pedestal at the intersection of Sam Nujoma Drive and Independence Avenue is a painful erasure of the city's history and that of its rightful founder, Jonker Afrikaner. This colonial monument continues to feed the incorrect narrative that “this land was empty” until he "discovered" it.
While the city has rightly renamed old colonial streets - like the former Kaiser Street to the current Independence Avenue, and Curt von Francois Avenue to Sam Nujoma Drive - it is now time that it publicly corrects the image of the city's founder, and ceases honouring colonial faces.
Curt von Francois was responsible for the building of the Alte Feste, a military fort meant to protect the interests of the German colonial regime, and that is where his statue belongs. He should be confined within the walls that he built, next to the other statue of a bygone and violent era - the Reiterdenkmal - to contemplate their violent colonial legacies until the end of time.
WHAT WE WANT:
1. We, citizens of Windhoek, ask that this statue be removed as soon as possible and be replaced by a sculpture of Windhoek’s true founder: Jonker Afrikaner.
2. The new sculpture should be commissioned by the City via an open call to Namibian artists and sculptors, and be erected on 18 October 2020: roughly 180 years after Windhoek's actual founding.
While we cannot change our city's dark and violent history, we can change what we commemorate from that history. We owe it to Jonker Afrikaner, Samuel Maherero, Hendrik Witbooi, and the thousands of Nama and Herero people who were subjected to genocide by the murderous German Colonial Regime. We owe it to our current and future generations that the true history of our beautiful, yet complex city is not forgotten.
We bid him a "Curt" farewell.