Students at the University of Cape Town, South Africa protested the presence of a statue of Cecil Rhodes last month by throwing human excrement over it and sent shockwaves across the nation, mobilizing racial dialog.
Now those same students are celebrating the removal of the statue of this British colonialist.
Onlookers applauded on April 9 as the bronze statue was removed from South Africa’s oldest university after a month of student demonstrations against this symbol of white oppression. Some students jumped on the statue, hitting it with sticks and covering its face with plastic.
“It marks a significant shift …..where the country deals with its ugly past in a positive and constructive way,” said Sandile Memela, government spokesman for the arts and culture ministry.
The monument had been in place since 1934, to honor the fact that Cecil John Rhodes had donated the land for the university.
Who Was Rhodes?
Cecil John Rhodes was born in 1853, the son of a clergyman, in the small English town of Bishop’s Stortford. He became sick shortly after leaving high school, and so his father decided he should visit his brother in South Africa, both for his health and because the business opportunities were better there than in England. From this unremarkable beginning, Rhodes founded the De Beers diamond empire, became one of the world”s wealthiest men and rose to be premier of Cape Colony in 1890.
Rhodes believed firmly that the white British were superior to all other races in the world; true to this belief, he began the policy of enforced racial segregation in South Africa, later known as apartheid. His belief in the racial superiority of the British allowed him to treat his employees unscrupulously, cheating them out of land and wages.
The mining magnate died in 1902, aged 49, and was buried in the country that bore his name, Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.
So yes, this statue had to go.