KwaZulu Natal church collapse kills 13 during heavy rains

Heavy rains caused a church on KwaZulu Natal to collapse according to Times LIVE.

13 people were killed in the collapse, 6 were seriously injured and 10 suffered minor injuries.

The storm also blew off the roofs of restaurants and houses in the Ballito area, causing minor injuries to multiple people according to IPSS Medical Rescue teams.

Earlier this week a prayer room in the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem went up in flames, fortunately nobody was hurt and fire crews managed to prevent it causing too much damage.

Notre Dame also went up in flames. One firefighter was injured, but most of the art was successfully rescued and while there was extensive damage to the structure the French government has undertaken to rebuild.

This has caused a debate over whether to use modern architectural techniques or to restore it just the way it was, according to the New York Times.

The modern materials and techniques would be quicker and safer, however some believe this would be less authentic.

The thing is the spire that collapsed was built in the 19th century, after the spire that used to be there was taken down because it was dangerous.

My Take

Of these three events I would say the biggest tragedy was the one in KwaZulu Natal, because you can replace things but you can’t replace people, but the one that most strikes people is the third – Notre Dame, because of how much history that building has.

I’m an atheist, and I’m not a fan of religious buildings. I look at them and think about the human suffering they represent – for example prior to the French revolution France’s largest land owner was the church, and the church was not a good landlord to have.

What I see in religious buildings is an artifact of ostentatious wealth at the expense of the poor serfs who paid rents and tithes for centuries. People lived in hovels as those cathedrals rose.

Now Notre Dame belongs to the state, but that history is still a part of it.

That said, nothing is gained by the destruction of these structures, it doesn’t put food in anybody’s mouth and for all I disagree with religion it doesn’t refund any sort of expense to lose something of beauty.

And that is something I think we should think about in South Africa. I remember during the #Rhodesmustfall protests, when protesters set fire to artworks that were hanging up in UCT, this was seen by some as something revolutionary, destroying the symbols of past oppression.

But destroying the symbols didn’t put food in anybody’s mouth, and for all one should disagree with the legacy of colonialism and Apartheid, nobody gained by that destruction.

History is not something from which anybody can derive pride, it something we learn from so as not to do it again.

I look at Notre Dame and my feelings are complex, I feel the loss in a less clean way than I do with that church in KwaZulu Natal, because things don’t hold as much value to me, and yet it is a loss in which nobody wins.

And I suppose that is the essence of tragedy – after all the flame and fury there is no real victory, only damage.


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