Professor Phil Bonner
We here at the National Heritage Monument heard with great sadness that our esteemed colleague and respected historical advisor Professor Phil Bonner passed away on Sunday, 24 September 2017. It was national Heritage Day – a striking coincidence that would not have been lost on Prof, in fact, no doubt he would have chuckled at that.
Professor Bonner was instrumental in helping to draw up our first long list of people to be commemorated in the Long March to Freedom, a list that is still consulted today. He has contributed greatly to the development of the biographical panels that accompany the sculptures now standing in Fountains Valley, and corrected many an error in historical fact, grammatical turns of phrase and political jargon.
Of particular importance to him was the burning desire not to whitewash history, and even when commemorating, to tell the whole story. He never shied away from revealing weaknesses, whether in an individual or in an organisation, but always put these in their greater context, because at heart he always wanted people to get the fuller picture. Not the headline stuff, but the much more interesting nuanced and complex ‘sub-events’ that give rise to the more known bigger events.
Although not born in South Africa, he deeply loved this country, and knew its history better than most.
He is a loss to the Long March to Freedom, but we have no doubt that our research team and researchers in the future will continue stumbling across his work and use it to great effect when rewriting South Africa’s history.
For a fuller understanding of Professor Bonner’s political and academic contributions, please follow this link https://johannesburgreviewofbooks.com/2017/09/26/the-jrb-daily-obituary-professor-phil-bonner-1945-2017/
Some of Professor Bonner’s books: