In 1890, when Cecil John Rhodes became Prime Minister of what the British called ‘The Cape Colony’, he introduced various Acts of Parliament to remove black people from their lands to make way for industrial development.
Rhodes’ view was that black people needed to be driven from their lands to “stimulate labour”.
“It must be brought home to them”, Rhodes said, “that in future, nine-tenths of them will have to spend their lives in manual labour, and the sooner that is brought home to them the better”.
They commemorated this stand-up-guy with a number of statues, and a large memorial on Table Mountain. They also named a country (Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe), and a university (Rhodes University), after him.
Back in 2016, the Rhodes Must Fall movement successfully motivated The University of Cape Town to remove its statue of Rhodes. Now, in the wake of the George Floyd protests people all over the world are calling for the removal of statues that commemorate colonists, and others, who contributed to the oppression of people of colour.
When their calls aren’t heeded, they take matters into their own hands.
It looks like that’s what might have happened at Rhodes Memorial, with a bust of Rhodes beheaded either on Sunday night, or early Monday morning.
That image up top is what the bust looked like before the latest incident.
Over to TimesLIVE:
The bust housed at the top of a flight of steps at the Rhodes Memorial shows Rhodes with his arms folded. His right hand now cups what would have been his cheek — only with most of his face and head missing.
Lauren Clayton, spokesperson for South African National Parks (SANParks) in the Western Cape, said rangers patrolling Table Mountain came across the disfigured bust during regular patrols on Monday.
So far no one has claimed responsibility, but a case has been opened with the police. The motivation behind the beheading is “unclear”, but anyone who knows anything about the French Revolution could hazard a guess.
Besides, this isn’t the first time that the statue has been defaced.
In 2001, red paint was poured all over it.
Then, in September 2015, the bust was vandalised, with the nose cut off, and the phrase “racist, thief, murderer” painted on the plinth.
So, there was evidence to suggest that people found the bust offensive and didn’t want it there.
I suppose it was only a matter of time until the bust was once again damaged.
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