The Monkey enjoyed a day in Pretoria during his 2010 visit to South Africa, taking in a place of great historic significance and witnessing a less palatable moment of footballing infamy.
Pretoria is South Africa’s administrative and de facto capital (although Cape Town is home to the parliament and Blomfontein hosts the high court). Founded in 1855, the city’s name derived from Andries Pretorius, a Voortrekker, or Boer settler that emigrated inland from the then-British-controlled Cape Colony centered around Cape Town. Pretorius had defeated a Zulu force to help cement the Voortrekker presence in this region, which eventually—in the latter half of the 19th Century—became part of the Transvaal Republic, a Boer statelet that challenged British colonial rule in the region. Pretoria’s role as the primary capital dates from 1910, when several distinct colonies were merged into the Union of South Africa, a single dominion of the British Empire. Later, in a 1961 referendum, (white) voters ended the Union and opted to reconstitute South Africa as an independent republic, albeit while maintaining the Apartheid system of racial segregation. Again, Pretoria remained the main capital of this new state with certain powers outplaced to Cape Town and Blomfontein.
With the end of Apartheid in 1994, Pretoria played host to the momentous occasion of the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first fully democratically elected president. In fact, it was the very view over Pretoria that the Monkey is enjoying here which Mandela surveyed while giving his first address as president. You can almost hear his famous line: “Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world. Let freedom reign.”
In a reverse of the photo above, the Monkey inspects the grandiose Union Buildings. Set atop Pretoria’s highest hill, the Union Buildings are the seat of government and house the office of the president. Built in 1910, the building’s two towers were intended to represent the union of two peoples—the Boers and the British—in the new Union of South Africa; quite how (or whether) the colonized communities were represented is unclear. Despite predating the Apartheid reign of the National Party, the Union Buildings had associations with that regime and previous oppression of the majority population in the country, and there were doubts as to whether the buildings and Pretoria in general would retain their role with the onset of multiracial electoral politics in 1994. In a clever move that surely aided the cause of national reconciliation, Mandela was inaugurated on the steps of the Union Buildings, thus further extending the symbolic meaning of the place and showing that majority rule would not mean a complete rupture with the country’s past.
The Monkey poses in front of South Africa’s colorful flag, which was adopted in 1994 under the last Apartheid president—F.W. de Klerk—at the onset of the open elections which he had helped to bring about. The flag skillfully incorporates references to Dutch and British heritages, the previous South African flag, and the colors of the African National Congress political party which Mandela brought to power in 1994.
On a glorious winter day, the Monkey joins the crowds in Pretoria’s Church Square. Seen as the symbolic center of the city, Church Square is hemmed in by monumental buildings which date from the days of the Transvaal Republic’s gold boom and the Anglo-Boer Wars. Today, the square is a regular gathering place for Pretorians seeking to take a break or make their voices heard.
Aside from a desire to set foot in this historic city, the Monkey was also drawn to Pretoria for one of the matches of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (see below). Before the match, he met Zakumi, the tournament’s official mascot, on the steps of the Union Buildings. Lamentably, not even the combined diplomatic power of the Monkey and Zakumi was sufficient to convince the regressive leaders of FIFA to institute the video review the beautiful game needs in order to retain its integrity.
At Pretoria’s famed Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the Monkey attends what should have been an epic encounter between Spain and Chile during the 2010 World Cup. Surprise package Chile’s free-flowing attacking style seemed a perfect foil for European champions’ Spain’s possession passing game, and the match began with the Chileans in the stands in good voice and high in confidence. And it was an enthralling match—until that dive by Spanish forward Fernando Torres and the subsequent sending off of a Chilean defender who had made no contact with Torres, conspired to throw the match for Spain, who held on to win 1-2. While a neutral at this match, the Monkey left somewhat annoyed, in case you didn’t notice…
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