Monday mornings as a student were never pleasant at the best of times but I have a feeling that things on both the UCT campus and the Eastern Cape’s Rhodes University campus are going to be pretty tense this morning.
The furore surrounding the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes rages on and people have started digging into exactly what kind of person he was and what views he held. The majority of us know that he wasn’t exactly a beacon of hope for a rainbow nation but we have found a few quotes that will raise eyebrows. These from News24:
The native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of South Africa.
I prefer land to niggers.
There are also a few available with a quick search online:
We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labour that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.
I contend that we are the finest race in the world and that the more of the world we inhabit the better it is for the human race…What an alteration there would be if they Africans were brought under Anglo-Saxon influence.
Now it’s also obvious that the funds Rhodes left behind have made a positive difference to many peoples’ lives. Should we then remove all traces of that legacy? UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price had this to say to News24:
He was a great man, did many things and did them well. He was a great politician and an imperial governor of the Cape. What he achieved was unusual, and he was a self-made man. But the attitude and means he used to get there were not right.
He was racist. He used power and money to oppress others. So on balance he was a villain…
Price then said his personal opinion was that the statue should perhaps be moved but still remain on UCT campus. His counterpart at Rhodes, Vice-Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela, shared similar sentiments:
Mabizela agreed, saying he did not share the view that history should be obliterated.
Not only was Rhodes University named after the imperialist, the institution was also built from funds he donated.
And the illustrious and prestigious Mandela Rhodes Scholarship is funded by the proceeds of his vast wealth.
It’s obvious why some students are so against the statue, the name and what it represents but one should also keep in mind the good that the funds left behind by Rhodes have managed to achieve. We wait to see how this week will play out.
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