A genuine mistake, perhaps. The bust of Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa author of The Book of Disquiet amongst many others, was defaced with red paint this month in the protests against statues of colonial figures such as Rhodes.
Pessoa’s bust is found situated between Dr AB Xuma (Commercial) Road and Monty Naicker (Pine) Street in honour of the years the poet spent in South Africa. His father died when Pessoa was five years old, and the family moved from Lisbon with his mother’s new husband, a consul, to Durban, South Africa, where Pessoa attended an English school. At 13 Pessoa returned to Portugal for a year-long visit, and returned there permanently in 1905.
What would Fernando Pessoa have made of the overthrow of colonial statues?
Não sou nada.
Nunca serei nada.
Não posso querer ser nada.
À parte isso, tenho em mim todos os sonhos do mundo.
His heteronym Álvaro de Campos might have proclaimed invisibility:
I am nothing.
Never shall be anything.
Cannot will to be anything.
This apart, I have in me all the dreams of the world.