Cape Town – After weeks of protests and debates at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Rhodes will fall. The “Rhodes Must Fall” debate began when students threw human waste on the statue of British Colonialist, Cecil John Rhodes. The “Rhodes Must Fall” movement wanted this statue to be removed because they believe that it is a symbol of racism. “This particular statue stands in the middle of the institution and is a source of trauma and pain to a lot of black students,” Student proster, Kealeboga Ramaru explained. Students that protested in favour of the removal of the statue said that this statue represents everything that Rhodes stood for: racism, plunder, white supremacy, coloniaslim, dispossession and oppression of black people.
The “Rhodes Must Fall” debate has been a controversial issue. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been abuzz, with some saying that the removal of the statue is not going to tackle the socio-economic challenges that South Africa is currently faced with. Others have said that as a part of the country’s history, it should be kept. None-the-less, some people have felt removing the statue is a significant step in the move towards transformation in South Africa. Messages of support were also offered from the University of California and the University of West Indies.
On March 27, UCT’s Senate said that it “had voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending to council that the statue be moved.” On Wednesday, 08 April, the Council said that the statue would be temporarily moved, pending a decision by the Western Cape’s heritage council. “The Council has voted unanimously in favour of the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from its position on upper campus,” said Council Chairperson Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane. “Now, the University will submit its application to Heritage Western Cape (HWC) who will make the final decision.” Ndungane elaborated. UCT’s Vice Chancellor, Dr Max Price labelled the decision taken by the university as a “momentus” one. “This marks a new life for UCT. As a university, we must look into the future and see how to better it.” he said.
The Student Representative Council (SRC) of UCT confirmed the move yesterday evening. “This is just the start. The statue will be moved on Thursday at 5pm. The fruits of our long, long labour are beginning to show.” SRC president, Ramabina Mahapa said.
The defacing of statues has spread to other parts of the country. On March 26, the students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal defaced the statue of King George V. The statue of Paul Kruger was defaced in Pretoria. Earlier this morning, outside parliament in the Western Cape, the statue of Louis Botha was also defaced.