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Centenary Memorial
Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape

F W Prof Armstrong: Designer

Date:1912
Type:Memorial
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
33°18'38.16" S 26°31'33.72" E Alt: 549m

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The Grahamstown Centenary Memorial was unveiled on 14 August 1912 by the Honourable Jan Christian Smuts, then Minister of Finance in the Union Government.

The foundation stone forms the splayed face of the north-east diagonal projection in the formal base of memorial, with the following inscription:

THIS STONE WAS LAID
BY
GENERAL THE HONOURABLE
J. C. SMUTS K.C.
ON AUGUST 14 1912

The main inscription on the east side of the memorial relates to the establishment of the town in 1812. The inscription - cut into the sandstone face of the memorial - reads as follows:

ON THIS SPOT
STOOD THE TREE UNDER WHICH
LIEUT. COL. GRAHAM
AND
CAPT. STOCKENSTROM
DECIDED UPON
THE PRESENT SITE OF THE
CITY OF GRAHAMSTOWN
JUNE 1812.

The City of Grahamstown was proclaimed in August 1812 and named Graham's Town after Lieutenant Colonel John Graham, a British officer. Captain Andries Stockenstrom was also present when the site was chosen. The tree under which the men took the decision was apparently a mimosa tree (Acacia) which fell in 1842. The memorial was paid for by public subscription.

Bronze plaques were originally intended for all four sides. A fine sculpted bronze plaque by Dutch sculptor August Falise - commemorating Pioneer Women and the bravery of Elizabeth Salt in 1819 - is the only one and is positioned on the west side. Elizabeth Salt is depicted surrounded by Xhosa warriors with spears and shields. The following wording is inscribed into the face of the sandstone above the bronze plaque:

TO PIONEER WOMEN
AND TO COMMEMORATE AN INCIDENT AT THE
BATTLE OF GRAHAMSTOWN, APRIL 22 1819.

The following wording is inscribed into the face of the sandstone below the bronze plaque:

KEEP THEIR MEMORY GREEN AND SWEET
THEY SMOOTHED THE THORNS WITH BLEEDING FEET

The plaque itself has the following details inscribed at the lower left hand side:

FECIT AUG. FALISE 1915
HOLLANDE

The memorial was possibly designed by Prof FW Armstrong - the first Professor of Art at the Rhodes University College. Armstrong's signature appears on a perspective drawing published in the Grocott's Mail of 14 August 1912.

The monumental mason responsible for the construction of the sandstone memorial was GEO. GIBSON of Queenstown. His details were inscribed into the sandstone at the lower right hand side of the main panel on the east face of the memorial.

The memorial has recently (2018) been defaced with red spray paint - probably by supporters of the EFF party.

Source: Basic text provided by Fleur Way-Jones of the Albany Museum, expanded and extended by William MARTINSON.

The inscription at the base of the statue reads 'Fecit Aug. Falise Hollande 1915'. Which is Latin for 'Made by August Falise Netherlands 1915'. See Wikipedia.