A statue of Cecil Rhodes, the British mining magnate and African coloniser, has been pulled down from its plinth at the South Africa’s University of Cape Town, UCT, after a prolonged protest by students.
The statue, which has occupied a prominent position on the UCT’s rugby fields since 1934, had been previously assaulted with dirt, paint and wrapped in plastic bags by those who argued that it was offensive to black students and that memories of the brutal heritage Rhodes represented should not be preserved.
The monument, taken down in front of cheering protesters, will be stored for “safe keeping”, UCT’s council said.
The crowd cheered as the statue was being removed. Once it was removed some students jumped on it and started hitting it with wooden sticks and covering the face with plastic.
When the crane removed the statue, it was a huge victory for black South Africans fed up with a lack of education and job opportunities more than 20 years after apartheid ended.
“We finally got the white man to sit down and listen to us,” said a student who had campaigned for it to be taken down. Some were chanting “one settler; one bullet” – a sign that anger could boil over if the lives of black people do not improve.
But the whole affair serves as a wake-up call to South Africans to tackle racial inequality. People point to the fact that at the University of Cape Town there are only five black South African-born professors.
Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa’s arts and culture minister said UCT’s students had raised a valid concern.
“For far too long our heritage landscape has been viewed through the prism of our colonisers and we have got to challenge that,” he said.
The protesters said that the statue had “great symbolic power” which glorified someone “who exploited black labour and stole land from indigenous people.”Follow Us on Social Media