Persistence of the past and the here-and-now of the Union Buildings
In their presence and continued use as seat of government, the Union Buildings in Pretoria reveal the persistence of the past in a prime space of power and official commemoration in South Africa. The paper focuses on the retention of these segregation-era buildings as the “top” site of government in the context of Tshwane, or Pretoria, in the democratic era from 1994. The paper traces events and actions through several periods since the Buildings were conceived in 1909, to and beyond the inauguration of President Mandela at the site. Some alternative views on continued use of the buildings are explored. The argument of the paper is that urban collective memory in which monuments such as the Union Buildings stand, is constantly remade, and the meanings ascribed to the images evoked by such an edifice shift into sometimes radically different directions from those held in earlier periods.