Monday, 23 March 2015

Must Rhodes fall?

John Cecil Rhodes was born in 1853, became rich from diamonds, British Prime Minister in the Cape and died, before his 50th birthday, in 1902.

'Spes bona' means 'Good hope'.
After him two countries were named: North and South Rhodesia. Today Zambia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa one of the more prestigious universities is named after him: Rhodes University in Grahamstown. At the University of Cape Town (UCT), a statue of Rhodes I centrally placed.

Especially the statue at UCT is now causing debate and protests. 300 students and staff members have embarked on an overnight sit-in. The protest has also spread to Rhodes University.

Pietermaritzburg is quite far from both Cape Town and Grahamstown but through different internet sources I get some information. First of all it seems to me that the two universities are dealing with the matter in an open and democratic way. On the website of UCT a number of links refer to this conflict. The same at the Rhodes University website.

According to the UCT website, the Vice Rector, Max Price, wants the statue to be moved, not removed. I am not sure if this will be enough for students and staff.

On facebook, there is a community called: Rhodes must fall, with the explanation:
A collective student, staff and worker movement mobilising for direct action against the institutional racism of UCT.
Julius Malema, EFF, is also taking part in the protest and offers the support of the EFF to remove the statue of Rhodes, writes the Mail and Guardian. But he sees it as part of a greater war on Cape Town’s ‘apartheid regime’.

I also read in the Eyewitness News, that the ANC youth league is behind the protest.

It is not easy to know what is going on here. But one thing is for sure: the statue is just the tip of an iceberg.

Anyway, I like the way the academic world seems to deal with in in an open and transparent manner. I hope my analysis is correct. To me it a ‘good hope’.

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