Mandela Appreciated Rhodes
President Nelson Mandela publically praised the vision and educational legacy of Cecil John Rhodes. Nelson Mandela even linked his name with that of Rhodes in his appreciation for the educational legacy of the Rhodes Trust by launching the Mandela-Rhodes Trust. At a speech at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, 16 April 2002, a century after the death of Cecil Rhodes, Nelson Mandela emphasized the need to: "…honour… and respect those who have worked to build and develop our country… South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity… we have to harness all of the different strands of our history as we reconstruct and develop our country. We have to ensure that we live together in ways that make all South Africans confident that the country equally belongs to all who live in it."
In throwing human excrement at the Rhodes statue, demonstrators are not only violating all codes of decency, but are also creating a health hazard in public. In defacing an historic monument these vandals are guilty of a serious crime. They are also publically demonstrating their ignorance of what Cecil Rhodes stood for and achieved, and what Nelson Mandela advocated.
Honoured by the Matabele
Cecil Rhodes was greatly respected by the Matabele whose culture he respected. The sons of King Lobengula chose to devote themselves to Rhodes' service. The Matabele honoured Cecil Rhodes with a traditional king's burial in the Matopos, where for over 80 years they posted guards to protect his grave site on Worldsview. When, in February 2012, ZANU-PF activists attempted to exhume Rhodes' remains, the local Chief Masuku forbad it and Godfrey Mahachi, one of the country's foremost archaeologists, strongly opposed this desecration of an historic monument and tourist attraction.
A Waste of Time and Energy
It is unlikely that most of the hysterical protestors on UCT Campus are aware of any of this. That they are merely pawns in a cheap political move, may be the furthest thing from their minds, but throwing excrement at statues, covering monuments in black rubbish bags, and boxing it up are not only meaningless gestures that will do nothing to improve life or education for anyone, but are a terrible waste of time and energy. Especially in an institution which should be dedicated to furthering education, improving job prospects and encouraging investments in our country.
Unlike many modern politicians, Cecil Rhodes never took a salary when he was Prime Minister of the Cape (1890-1896). In fact, rather than have the state build him a house, he built Groote Schuur (now Genadendal) with his own funds and he donated it to the Cape as a residence for future Prime Ministers and, with foresight, to be the residence of future Prime Ministers of a united South Africa.
Rhodes bought up and ensured the protection of the land on the slopes of Table Mountain, which he donated to the country, to become Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town.
To Render Wars Impossible
Most significantly, he provided for the establishment of the famous Rhodes Scholarship, which he envisaged to "render wars impossible and promote the best interests of humanity." In fact, if his vision had been adhered to, both the First and Second World Wars would have been avoided. It was Rhodes' vision to unite the British, German and Dutch people through education, and exchange student programmes, for the betterment of humanity and to ensure world peace.
Rhodes supported teaching Dutch, as well as English, in the public schools in the Cape Colony, and donated money for this cause. As Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, he removed the legal discriminations that English speakers had imposed on the Dutch speaking Afrikaaners. He was a friend and supporter of Jan Hofmeyr, leader of the Afrikaner Bond. Rhodes opposed the British annexation of the Transvaal in 1877 and supported the Boer cause in the First War of Independence (1880-1881). He also opposed the British invasion of Zululand in 1879.
Rhodes advocated greater self-government for the Cape Colony, for Australia, Canada and New Zealand and opposed interference from London in our local affairs. In this respect it is inaccurate to call Rhodes an imperialist in that he opposed centralised control and advocated autonomy, decentralisation and self-government throughout the British Empire.
Devoted to World Peace
Rhodes greatly respected the Germans, admired the Kaiser and provided for German students to be included in the Rhodes Scholarship. He believed partnership between the United Kingdom, the USA and Germany would ensure world peace.
Great South African
In 2004, Cecil Rhodes was voted 56th in the SABC Television series, Great South Africans.
Some of Rhodes' quotations that seemed to have been forgotten are: "Equal rights for all civilised men" and "I could never accept the position that we should disqualify a human being on account of his colour."
Ignorance and Ingratitude
So, those hooligans who are screaming and creating a stink on campus over a monument of the man who donated the land and provided the money for the University of Cape Town, and whose Legacy funds their education, are not only demonstrating crass ingratitude, but abject ignorance on the matters that they are demonstrating about.
It seems hypocritical to campaign against Cecil Rhodes, who never took a Pound out of the public treasury for himself, but who provided for the education of literally millions over the last century, while ignoring the ongoing atrocities and corruptions of Blood Diamond criminal dictators, like Robert Mugabe, today.
Perhaps a more meaningful demonstration against Cecil Rhodes would be to refuse to study on a campus that he provided for, or to benefit from any of the Educational Trusts that he set up and funded.
Those who live in Cape Town would do themselves a favour by visiting the Rhodes Cottage in Muizenberg and acquainting themselves with some of the legacy of this farsighted and incredibly influential figure in our history.
Whether we like Rhodes, or not, we all benefit from his legacy. If mobs can remove one historic monument, then no monument is safe. This is not about Rhodes. This is a battle over history. It is a war against civilisation, the rule of law and education itself!
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74
Wildfires in Cape Town
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