Campaign to get rid of Cecil Rhodes expands

MARCH 25, 2015

Rhodes University’s Student Representative Council (SRC) will on Wednesday hand over to management a memorandum to consider changing the institution’s name to something else.

The then Rhodes University College, now Rhodes University, in Grahamstown, was established in his name by his trustees and founded by Act of Parliament on 31 May 1904.

Students at the university have been protesting, demanding that the institution’s name be changed and that transformation take place at a quicker pace.

However, Rhodes University Vice Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, maintains the institution will not be changing its name any time soon.

Mabizela says the debate on name changes is not just a Rhodes debate but a national debate.

He says changing the name must be considered carefully and only then can a way forward be decided.

But, Rhodes University students have indicated that they will not take no for an answer.

University of Cape Town to announce decision on Cecil John Rhodes statue

Meanwhile, the University of Cape Town (UCT) is expected to announced a decision from the university’s Institutional Forum on calls that a statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the institutions grounds be removed.

The university was built with funds and on lands donated by Rhodes himself.

On Tuesday, University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price said the proposal to remove Rhodes’ statue had been approved by the institution’s Senior Leadership Group (SLG).

This follows protests by UCT students over the past weeks to have the Rhodes’ statue removed. The students say the statue does not represent what they stand for.

Ramabina Mahapa, a student leader at Cape Town University, said its bronze statue of Rhodes was offensive to black students.

"Whose heritage are we preserving?" he asked.

“I have met with the SLG of UCT, namely the deans, the Executive Directors, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors and the Directors of Institutional Planning and the Transformation Office. I am now in a position to confirm that the proposal I have earlier made in my personal capacity has been supported by all these constituencies,” said Price.

The SLG will now present the proposal to:

-       The University Assembly on Wednesday

-       The PASS forum of professional and support staff on Thursday

-       The Senate on Friday.

They would then discuss the matter with the Convocation meeting on April 7 and would conclude presentations in a special sitting of the University’s Executive Council on April 15.

“UCT is an argumentative university. This is an abiding strength and undoubtedly, the students are leading a national debate. We have gone to great lengths to allow a free exchange of ideas on the issue of the statue,” said Price.


However, some have criticized the removal of Cecil John Rhodes’ statue at UCT and his name at Rhodes University saying removing this would be erasing a part of history.

Felicity Goss was quoted by Timeslive as having wrote online; “Please ensure that the minute the statue is removed, all bursaries that have been paid out to Rhodes University students over the past decades are paid back into the Trust set up for that purpose.

“If Mr. Rhodes is undeserving of his place, those that wish him removed must pay back the money the same day.”

Anthony Kruger was quoted as having wrote; “It seems to me that:

  1. The same tactics as the airport poo people are being followed, and the hidden hand of the ANC in the Western Cape is behind this (conspiracy theory - maybe, maybe not)
  2. This group of young minds, all 30 of them, some students, some not (per SABC radio today), are fascists in the making - brute force to subdue and get people to cower and conform.”

But the proponents say removing Rhodes from the public eye will not make people forget the role he played in South African history.

There were reports on Tuesday that the residents of Kimberley, where a 72-ton bronze statue depicts Rhodes on his horse, looking north with map in hand, and dressed as he was when he met the Ndebele after their rebellion, want the statue removed as well.

Rhodes’ grave could be dug up in Zimbabwe

The protests in South Africa have also seen renewed calls for the grave of Cecil Rhodes in Zimbabwe to be dug up and his remains sent back to Britain.

Rhodes is buried at a site he chose, known as World's View, in the Matopos Hills, half-an-hour's drive south of Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo.

His grave is a major tourist attraction in one of the poorest parts of Zimbabwe.

Still some of President Robert Mugabe's supporters said they would dig up the grave in solidarity with protests in South Africa calling for the removal of Rhodes's statue from Cape Town University.

"We strongly support what is happening in South Africa. We cannot stand seeing whites coming from abroad every day to honour and conduct rituals before their ancestor who is buried on our own land," said Zweli Malinga, an official with the ruling Zanu PF party in Bulawayo, was quoted as having said by the UK’s Telegraph.

Three years ago, President Mugabe blocked war veterans from disinterring Rhodes and sending his bones back to England, arguing that the grave was an important reminder of history.

Cecil John Rhodes

Rhodes, originally from Hertfordshire, England, made a fortune mining diamonds in South Africa before moving north to establish Rhodesia.

Contrary to his well-celebrated legacy, there are claims that his colonial activities resulted in the death of around 60 million Africans. Critics say through his relentless pursuit of wealth and power, people's lives, freedom and dignity were not spared. Even the fortunes and lands that he amassed for himself and the British Empire were as a result of deceit and war.

Image: Cecil Rhodes' statue at UCT being covered. Image UCT.