The other night we went to watch Zander Blom's band in a bar in Joburg called the The Kitchener. If you're from Cape Town, think The Kimberly Hotel, but nicer. The thing is, though, that the Kitchener, in it's apparent 'harmless' colonial nostalgia, is named from Earl Kitchener, the famous British hero of both the South African War and World War II.
During the South African War (or Second Boer War) Kitchener arrived with Lord Roberts and the massive British reinforcements of December 1899, officially holding the title of chief of staff. Amongst other things, Kitchener was the inventor (or at least first implementer) of the the concentration camp, and the scorched earth policy. In a brutal campaign, these strategies removed civilian support from the Boers with a scorched earth policy of destroying Boer farms, slaughtering livestock, building blockhouses, and moving women, children and the elderly into concentration camps. Conditions in these camps, which had been conceived by Roberts as a form of controlling the families whose farms he had destroyed, began to degenerate rapidly as the large influx of Boers outstripped the ability of the minuscule British force to cope. The camps lacked space, food, sanitation, medicine, and medical care, leading to rampant disease and a staggering 34.4% death rate for those Boers who entered.
Other than a brief South African history lesson, the point is that he was not a particularly nice guy. In fact, one might even suggest it's a bit problematic to name a bar after him, more so for young (mostly white) South Africans to drink there there relishing in the quaint nostalgic fascism of the place, which features images of Kitchener prevalently on the walls.
Possibly MOST disturbing was the fact that supposed hardcore postcolonial theorist, Simon Njami was lounging on their couches all night. This worries me.
Perhaps some critique of both our nostalgia and our leisure-time is appropriate.