by Dale Kenmuir
So, the poople – sorry, I mean people – have vented again. RHODES THE COLONIALIST MUST GO! By poop and by crook.
But what appalling ingrates and hypocrites these vile desecrators are. The very land their feet are treading upon at UCT was bequeathed to the nation by Rhodes, enabling a university to establish. Should they not then be shunning this varsity? Doubtless a good deal of Rhodes money, both before and after his death (via the Rhodes Trust, which today has funded many a black student from SA and elsewhere via Rhodes Scholarships) contributed to the development of this university. Should these facilities not also be torn down? Should those black students who benefited from the Trust not return the money? And those who have applied for scholarships – should they not tear up their application forms? Should Kirstenbosch gardens not also be shunned – this also on land bequeathed to the nation by Rhodes?
And as for Rhodes and colonialism – anyone who has studied African history will know this was a short-lived period, but one that for the African people bridged the gap between their primitive iron age culture and the modern jet-age era, enabling the continent’s people to abandon old, stultifying ways and embrace all that the western world could offer, including a new-found ability to read and write. Furthermore, were it not for Rhodes much of southern/central Africa would not have come under the benign influence of British rule, which rapidly established law and order and released many tribes from the frightful raiding, killing and bondage of more powerful tribes (along with the slavery – internal and external – that was part and parcel of pre-colonial life). Some tribes, for example the Lozi under Lewanika, actually requested British protection from the constant raids of the brutal Matabele. As did Khama of Bechuanaland. Many other tribes north of the Zambezi thankfully embraced the British buffer, enabling them for the first time in decades to live without fear of raids from stronger tribes, and from Arab slavers acting in cahoots with these tribes.
His Empire-minded drive also prevented the Germans (allied perhaps with the Boers), the Belgians, and the Portuguese gaining control of southern/central Africa – nations that would certainly not have practiced the benignity of British rule (witness, for example, the harsh Congo rule of King Leopold, or that of the Germans in German East Africa.). If British colonialism was so bad, and using the above logic, should these anti-colonial anarchists not abandon all that colonialism brought to their recent forbears and return to living in grass huts, wearing skin aprons, using sleds instead of carts, raid one another for cattle and women, and eschew the ability to read and write?
If the UCT authorities feebly kow-tow to the demand of faeces-slinging anarchical students, instead of punishing and prosecuting them for anti-social behaviour, desecrating what in fact is public property, and tarnishing the good name of UCT, it will be a sad day for South Africa. It would send the signal – already shamefully being enhanced by anti-colonial-minded academics and mindless politicians from elsewhere – that desecration by foul-smelling human excreta – initiated by those cadres that flung human dung onto airport property – is an accepted form of political activism, and the practice will spread – literally and figuratively – far and wide. Farewell good race relations, tourism, SA’s international reputation, and our chances of foreign nations investing here. We will become a sad laughing stock in world eyes.
One final point, I wonder what Nelson Mandela – whose name is now part of the Rhodes Trust, would have thought of such practices? I have no doubt he too would have been appalled. Are these people therefore not also desecrating his name, by tarnishing the reputation of a nation he helped bring about and weld with his wonderful 1995 gesture?