Historical education

Screen-Shot-2015-03-19-at-6.55When he died, Cecil John Rhodes left some of his enormous wealth to found a prestigious scholarship. Part of his sprawling estate was given over to the establishment of the University of Cape Town and another part to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a less controversial but more beautiful legacy.

In recent years (in fact it was a question that arose when I visited UCT last year to give a lecture), the presence of a statue of Rhodes has become the focus of a vitriolic campaign against what certain people believe is an offensive monument to a wicked Imperialist who exploited Africans. The latter is obviously true, but then so was the story of King Shaka of the Zulu – who actually killed (sometimes by his own hand) so many Africans that he created anew the map of Eastern South Africa – chasing the Xhosa south and the Swazi north, bringing the disparate zulu clans under his iron rule.

I like the fact that King Shaka has an airport named after him. That doesn’t mean I have to like King Shaka. Cecil John Rhodes may have been the most successful imperialist agent of Victorian Britain, but his contribution to history (let alone education) is unquestionable.

Take the Rhodes statue down, I don’t care. I don’t have a dog in that fight. I’m not a fan of Rhodes and I don’t doubt his politics were appalling. As a student of history, it offends me more to see any modern human being let their feelings (however genuine and serious) attempt to cleanse bloody, ugly history of it’s veracity. I felt the same when they pulled down Saddam’s statue and when they removed Stalin’s body from Red Square. You can’t change the present by whitewashing the past – it’s like a child putting a plaster on a his wound.

It is a hollow victory to defeat those already dead. Rhodes doesn’t care; the French monarchs whose tombs were desecrated by revolutionaries didn’t care and the bones of dead people in unmarked graves are no more troubled by the events of the present than the revered bones of saints. Those doing the desecration however, seldom end up making history themselves. The only way to beat a bad person is to leave your own legacy which makes their legacy look bad.

People are a product of the time in which they live. We can’t judge a person who died a hundred years ago by the enlightened thought and sensitivity of the present. I’m sure people in a hundred years’ time will laugh at our attempts at ascribing value to things we hold dear today but which will be laughable in an age of bionics, interconnectivity and super-technology.

Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Jefferson kept slaves – and yet gave us the Declaration of Independence and birth of modern democracy. Do we throw the baby out with the bathwater and destroy every monument, memorial and building named after them because they did what all men of their time did? I don’t think you’d find one American prepared to start. You can’t cherry pick the qualities of a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person in a historical sense by using your own or even a modern set of parameters. By those standards, every human prior to at least the 1700s was at best a barbarian and certainly all the greatest men and women of history are nothing but despots and greedy slave-owners.

How are we to claim the Pyramids, The Acropolis, The Forum, the Great Wall of China, and Great Zimbabwe as part of our human story if we pretend they weren’t built by the sweat of slaves and the grinding oppression of the slaveowners? To hide the statues and spare a generation three times removed from the event is to do those sufferers an injustice. If a statue hurts you that much, you’re giving too much power to the statue.

We have an opportunity to build new legacies, create new scholarships, enhance our world and add to a horrible history by making a better future. Where are the new Universities Blade Nzimande promised?

This morning I had a Rhodes scholar on my show – Eusebius McKaiser – a man I respect and admire. I like disagreeing with him and I love seeing him debate and deconstruct bad ideas and positions. Though he has an intelligence that doubtless would have come to the fore without it, he is proud to have been a Rhodes scholar. I’m sure he doesn’t have much love for the man who founded the scholarship and didn’t care a damn about his (Eusebius’)ancestors, but that is immaterial. Perhaps Rhodes left this legacy because he felt guilty? Who knows? All I know is that you can never win an argument by emptying human turds on a statue – and you don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to figure that out.

88 Comments

  1. […] expanded his thoughts on his blog – comparing Rhodes to Shaka […]

  2. Chris Gill says:

    Let’s remove the statue and in it’s place put a block with the engraving “History is written by the victors”.

  3. Godfrey Harold says:

    It begs the question, where did Rhodes acquire this wealth, was it wealth from England? I think not, but the wealth accrued through the displacement of people. We must also bear in mind that he so called funding of education only benefited a particular few. It only in the recent past that UCT/Rhodes opened its door to people of colour.

  4. Lance says:

    I think you are all missing the point that I think GC is trying to make. If you forget history, you are doomed to repeat it.

    Wanting to know where Rhodes aquired his wealth is like trying to ask where did Shaka aquire his land from? What is the statute of limitations of some thing that happened in the past?

    I agree with Gareth, Create your own legacy 🙂

  5. nkosi says:

    Removing the statue wont do anybody any good … Create new things for people to appreciate .

  6. Well written, makes for a good read.

  7. Jenny Wolf says:

    I dont think anyone could say it better
    Well done Gareth

  8. Werner Roets says:

    Thank you Gareth, I agree with you almost totally. When this started I immediately pointed out that judging by the same standards, Shaka cannot be glorified. I also don’t care what happens to the statue but I do see it as an attack on the cultural heritage of the white minority. After all, the only real way you could say Rhodes was worse than Shaka is by being a racist (which I believe many of these students are). In fact, considering Rhodes’ positive contributions, I’d say Shaka was a worse person by typical modern moral standards.

  9. Inih Inagnob says:

    But I feel like this guy is very insensitive. One, He can’t really compare tribal fights within the Nguni national to the grave defilement that was apartheid. And yes, we should judge Rhodes because his legacy still exists. He can’t compare fights that took place that many years ago to the oppression and prejudice people witnessed 20 years ago. Scars like that don’t heal that fast. Thousands of our people still live in shacks and go through the most painful forms of hunger because of men like Rhodes. He can argue that these students know nothing about apartheid, but they are living its aftereffects. They see their parents struggling because of the injustices Rhodes and his “crew” did to their society.

    And to say that he “did what all men of their time did” does not make what he did ok. He was evil and the existence of such statues gives SOME (and pay attention the word “some” , because not everyone is racist) white students and staff authority and power to exercise institutional racism. They want the symbols to go down because of the same reasons the Berlin wall went down. Should the Germans have kept statues of Hitler and the wall? No! It represented a terrible part of history that they wanted to move away from. They will not forget it, but also don’t want constant reminders.

  10. Timber Gate says:

    Nicely put. People tend to forget that the reason they want to study at UCT is because it is the best university in South-Africa, and it certainly did not get to be that way without any single part of its history up to this point. Remove the statue, it will not remove his contribution to the institution. All this does is change how you feel about yourself, and there are better less aggressive ways to deal with that issue. By all means create new legacies that outshine his. It is much easier to break something down than it is to build your own.

  11. Sian Butcher says:

    hope your listeners do their history homework better than you. A starting point: https://soundcloud.com/powerfm987/is-there-anything-admirable-about-the-legacy-of-cecil-john-rhodes. Includes a powerful rebuttal to your ‘man of his time’ argument, from Professor Paul Maylam, minute 19: “Was he [Rhodes] a man of his time in the eyes of African people? No! He wasn’t at all. He was an archimperialist and should be judged accordingly.”

  12. Maurice JG says:

    Everyone has an opinion and each and every opinion is valid.
    We do not know how anyone else ‘feels’ at any given time.
    We can not understand what historical insensitivities were created back then – to hurt us in the modern world that we live, nor do I image any of the for-fathers ever thought about what pain they created at the time and how it would affect us, so many years later.

    I do however think that no matter which side of this debate you sit on, we are all here today thanks to what happened years ago.
    We do not grow without learning.
    We do not heal without hurting.
    But there are NONE so blind as those who do not see.

    A statue is a piece of rock. A reminder of what hideous things happened? Could be. But so too is it a reminder of what not to do in the future.

    It seems to be a viscous circle that humanity needs to live, so that we and the future generation can grow to be better human beings.

    The question is: at what point do we stop blaming what happened in the past and start taking action to make a better future for ourselves and our children.
    South Africa’s Nelson Mandela was a true leader in this aspect and walked proudly forward, talking about change that needed to happen and without pointing fingers at what happened in the past and he was in prison for countless years.
    We can’t change the past
    We can only live by what we believe in the present and thereby change the future.
    Rhodes, right or wrong, is part of this countries history and will always be in the history books even if the statue is removed.

    Gareth I think your article is well written, intelligent and insightful. Thanks you. And thank you for the wonderful comments posted by all. ITs enlightening to see all sides of a wonderful debate.

  13. Solly says:

    ISIS is doing the same thing in Iraq. Destroying history in the hope that people will forget history and the truth.

  14. Pumezo says:

    If we all dont care and dont give a damn about if the Statue stays or not , why defend its existence then? I think most of you are missing the point, I dont think anyone cares about the statue, the protest started by saying that UCT is a racist institution and it has not taken those claims seriouslly, through these frustration the students have protested in taking down a statue that symbolises their current suffering.

    I feel Gareth Cliff is being very insensitive to the situation and rather acting like a public figure and factoring all events before giving us a one sided story,like how favors the Great Rhodes Scholarship is helping the Education for the people of this country, the real question is which people is it helping ???

    I myself do not care if the statue stays or not, but if we claim we are one country and a majority of the country is crying out on how the statue affects them, why keep it then, do you keep it to mantain Cecil Rhodes history or do you say we are a healing country and this part of history can be found in a meseum somewhere rather then being displayed to the very same people it brought suffering too.

    Its like putting the Statue of Hitler in middle of Jerusalem. The Statue must go for our Peace of Mind.

    Regards

    Pumezo

    Regards

  15. xonia stanton says:

    Gareth,you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s enlightening to see comments by every one but really, half the problems in this country are because too much time is spent debating the past and not doing enough in the present. Name changes, statues removed…all a waste of money better spent elsewhere and yes, victors write the history for the present but the past will always be there.

  16. Daniel H says:

    The thing is Gareth, is that the current generation is not “three times removed from the injustices”, they continue to this day. The racial make up of our student bodies and faculties shows a clear, ongoing racial divide. I can’t speak for those who suffer racism and discrimination daily, I’m fortunate I don’t. But when people of other races I know tell me genuinely offends and reminds them of colonialist attitudes sill prevalent all over, I believe them.

    Look at it this way, if I were a black person and walked into a small town bar in which all the patrons were white, and behind the bar (and I’ve seen this before) there is a “Whites only” sign from the old days, would I be right in trying to “erase” a “defeated” history by trying to get it removed? Or would I ignore it, remember that Apartheid is over (right?), and feel welcome in that place?

    Nobody is trying to, or going to erase history. It’s all there, every bloody disgusting detail of it. But why celebrate its bastards in front of those trying to move forward from it. We have a new flag for a reason, changing it from the OBB wasn’t erasing it either. We still remember. It’s just a statue, who cares? The folks being reminded of their ongoing exclusion from higher education. They seem to care, so I’d rather listen to them.

  17. Dave says:

    Maybe the black people of South Africa should stop worrying about what the white people did a few hundred years ago, and worry more about how the blacks, they have elected, are stuffing South Africa up today, for everyone. Just maybe they should see if they can stop the greedy little piggies from steeling tax payers money, and maybe teach them to look further than their little snouts, so that they may see, that their actions today, are going to have dire consequences for the future of this country, and all that live in it. Maybe they should also realize that by making life as difficult as possible for the white people, is effectively shooting the goose that lays the golden egg, as 90% of tax collected comes from the white population, and South Africa, is in fact, the only country in the world, were 90% of the tax payers did not vote for the ruling party.

  18. Hennie Nel says:

    Gareth I agree whole hardheartedly with you, well said.
    H

  19. Julian says:

    I wonder how much damage Rhodes did, compared to the ANC for instance through?

    – Direct theft, corruption and mismanagement by government officials.
    – Badly “designed” and executed policy.
    – Mismanagement of Eskom and SAA
    – No to little investment in infrastructure, medical facilities and education
    – The arms deal
    – Nkandla
    – The list goes on

    Logically every day since the end of apartheid should be one day beter than the one before, but it is not. This country is not struggling under the legacy of apartheid anymore. We are struggling under the legacy of the ANC

    Will the ANC voter of today, one day be willing to accept responsibility for continuing to vote thieves and fraudsters into power?

    Will the statues of Zuma and company also be destroyed one then?

  20. Tisha says:

    Some of your history is fundamentally flawed. Great Zimbabwe was built by its people , not slaves or however you put it. Its not like the Pyramids. Bit more history needed before we take this covered defence of racism seriously

  21. Andre says:

    Are you saying that if Rhodes (and white people for that matter) did not come to South Africa, that thousands of (y)our people wouldn’t be “living in shacks” and going through “the most painful forms of hunger”? If Africa was left to the black people, that they would all be living in beautiful homes, with full bellies?
    Just asking?

  22. Bruce Hooper says:

    Gareth,
    Very well put! Too many people close to home, Mandela included, are guilty of blood. but we have to look past and keep the statue, if only to remind us to NEVER go there again.

  23. Andre says:

    if they want the statue gone then they should BURN DOWN THE WHOLE CAMPUS as this is also Rhodes money.In fact they should destroy the whole Country.When will they stop and be happy with the past. What will be next?Even when they walk past a Whitey they start crying like little babies that our skin reminds them of the past.These people will only be happy when there a no more Whites left in this lovely country.

  24. Clive says:

    Well put. People destroy where they are frustrated by their lack of ability to personally contribute to society and meet the demands of the modern world due to their own failings and inability to climb the ladder.

  25. James says:

    This article is good! But I still think it misses the point. People aren’t angry at history or Rhodes. They’re angry at present day South Africa’s inability to provide a good and fair shot at a meaningful life for everyone. They’re angry at structural racism and callous disregard for people’s very real day to day experience. How do you ‘get over’ apartheid when you travel a city everyday that looks and feels totally defined by race?

    Part of the problem is our government, the people we elect, aren’t making good on their promises. We can and should be doing so much better.

    But at the very least let’s all make some public statements about our commitment to reversing structural racism. Let’s tear down some old symbols, or even better position them in history contextualised by our own new and better symbols and heroes.

    There’s still a statue of Rhodes in the Company Gardens with his arms outstretched to the north and the inscription reads lovingly ‘there lies your hinterland’. Wtf?

    Gareth’s comments about Shaka are interesting but what about people like Moeshoeshoe and his incredible influence on both Kruger and Rhodes? What about Macassar the Muslim cleric from Malaysia that, as a slave himself, fought for the freedom of slaves.

    Let’s raise some of those statues.

  26. Lynette says:

    Well said Gareth..tried telling some of our “learned” people the same thing…but they are single tracked….what can I say…. We all fought for what we have today but where are we?….still waiting for the better side of things…but I suppose that is just not happening….still the same bull in reverse…WELL SAID….TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU…

  27. Barbara Morton says:

    It is so easy to pillory a leader from history and blame them for the ills of the present.

    Pulling down a statue of Rhodes, or indeed desecrating graves or similar actions, are not going to change the way the world is today ie structural inequities of race and gender.

    These inequities do not seem to dissipate on their own through the evolution of society, It takes new policies, which are fair and implementable to change the type of structural inequities that plague our society today. It would be a good start to introduce and make compulsory free pre¨school education in South Africa. Another thing that would make a big difference is the general upliftment of women in society by ensuring that erring husbands support their children into the future.

    I can’t really see how removing the statue of a man who realised a lot of wealth in South Africa and started so many educational institutions is going to help now. Let the government of the day, which seems to be so flush, provide more bursaries and support for students. The money, after all, all comes from the benefits provided from the capitalist system, of which Rhodes was a pioneer.

  28. Nonhle says:

    Hayi bo uGareth!?!? The amaXhosa did not move to the Kei River because Shaka chased them anywhere, they were there long before Shaka was born…long before van Riebeeck “discovered” the Cape of Good Hope, only amaBhele (abaNtu bakwaNtuli) went to the what is modern day Transkei which was at the time just the land of the Ntus, the Khois and the SAN, there was no great distinction at the time along tribal lines, it was different races who by the way lived together quite comfortably, when King Shaka approached the Ntu’s to unify them and form one strong nation it was because he had heard stories of human rights abuse in the Cape by the Dutch who had settled there in 1652. when the Dutch East India Co was liquidated in 1795 because of the French land invasion back home in the Netherlands consequently Holland, the British took advantage of the situation and moved into the Cape, then there was fighting for the Colony up till 1806 when the British established a colony there. to cut the long story short, King Shaka was born in 1798 and the Xhosas and the San were already involved in extensive wars with both the Dutch and later with the British loooong before. Comparing Shaka to Rhodes is just sad…silly and unusable. When the British took over the Cape they turned it into a colony and introduced Mercantile law, they then took all of the land and registered it under the Crown lands Act, all of the Cape land belonged to the King, later the Queen Victoria. It was at this time that the British gave this land to business owners and industrialists who were at the time part of the government to exploit for business. Shaka did not take anyone’s land, he merely asked people to unite and if they disagreed he forced that nationalisation process as he “claimed” at the time, “otherwise these lands will be ruled by izinkonjane” which was not a prediction as is popularly believed, it was based on facts known to him at the time. he was a visionary, whose wisdom still eludes most historians who are still trying to understand his nationalisation process from the age of 19, (he died at 28). The statue of Rhodes needs to go to a museum. it does not belong in a prominent lawn of an institution of higher learning. It is a symbol of sorrow. My apologies Laureen but there is nothing well written about Gareth’s article, it is all over the place and lacks factual truths…Gareth should leave this kind of stuff to the historians and the students of UCT…Thats my opinion

  29. Alastair says:

    Why not rather learn from the past history and build a vision of the future that avoids the mistakes that history teaches us. Otherwise we are bound to repeat them.

  30. David Sampson says:

    A nation or a people that focuses on the past while being blind or indifferent to the present are stunting their future. While CJR and others of his ilk did horrible things, there’s no shortage of atrocious actions and behaviour in our own present reality. The Xenophobic attacks is but one example that comes to mind. The wholesale looting of state coffers and massive fraud in government and the private sector is no less atrocious than the actions of the colonialists……in fact, it’s even more unforgivable because we should know better. In other parts of our continent people are being butchered and dehumanised by the thousands. What is our response now, in our time, how will history judge us?

  31. Roger says:

    The story is less then half the truth with a little silver lining in there but i guess that is not the point this “history student” is trying to make. CJR is also responsible for white washing the history of those he oppressed.

    CJR and King Leopold the 2nd of Belgium are the biggest killers of Africans yet some people see nothing wrong with monuments being erected to honour these men.

    Leipold the 2nd, killed in excess of 15million Congolese and CJR is the originator of the racist and violent land grabs that killed and displaced countless of Africans from Malawi, Zambia, Zim, Bots, Angola, most of West African zones, RSA and more. He is MR BLOOD DIAMOND…

    Today the number of how many killed because of CJR Is heavily disputed but needles to say we should not be building monuments in this dudes honour. do u see any statues of Hitler anywhere in mordern European cities? No…even though these cats killed way more than him…

    Famous CJR quotes “I prefer land to niggers.” or “the native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of South Africa”. This perpetrator of genocide paid mercenaries that killed about 5000 africans in one afternoon and celebrated at the end of the day like it was a sport.

    CJR was a colonizer who believed in British imperialism. He pushed for education reform to promote this ideology of white supremacy. Rhodes only donated the land UCT was built on. He gave his money to oxford to set up the Rhodes scholarship fund.

    It goes to show that history is truly written by the victors. CJR was a hardcore English colonialist, genocidal maniac and white supremacist as well as an agent for Queen Victory thru her BSAC.

    Why the hell would anyone wanna keep statues of someone like that on our soil and claim we need that to somehow preserve history? I say put that shit in a museum so people can learn and see what a piece of shit he was and the legacy he left us. Nothing to be proud of…nothing at all… Lets rather use this to show our future generation that we even overcame his legacy and put our true story out…ez

  32. Straight Talk says:

    I think Gareth Kliff’ left brain has fell off the KLIFF long time ago. I suggest he must re-attend his history class or better stay as a DISC JOKEY….The problem is that you have given a mouth piece to this boy! I ask of anyone whom is close to him to put something in his mouth my zipper is stacked..

  33. Johnson says:

    I think Gareth has too simplistic an argument for a multi – layered – very much complicated history such as ours and its (affected) people. Perhaps if he and his ancestors had endured and pained as much from 1652, he would be not be so nonchalant about it. Easy to give balanced views when you havnt lost anything. When you don’t feel the hurt of a bygone era every time you look at that statue going to class…I know I would, and after a certain point, negotiating the removal of Mr Rhodes may appear even more patronising. Gareth goes on to say “Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Jefferson kept slaves – and yet gave ‘us’the Declaration of Independence and birth of modern democracy”. Erm..am I missing something here? Democracy for whom? Oh, American people except African Americans I take it. Should Africans create their own legacy? Absolutely! Do they need to embrace the past to do so, I don’t think so. If you get reminded too much of the past you find yourself stuck in it. As is evidence with this statue. South africa, until 1994 was as close to Nazi Germany as there was in the modern era. I don’t think removing Hitler’s statue required much debate. Up until 2013, there was a street in Panorama called Hendrick Verwooed avenue! The residents of Panorama/Plattekloof are of the type that are more sensitive about their pets than in sensitivities of ‘others’! So, yea, perhaps Gareth should stick to impersonations of Zuma than actually giving key note speaches, because it’s all relative, and he is not vaguely relatively relevant. Like he said , he has no dog in this fight …. I tend to agree…

  34. Ginger says:

    Gareth has not once said he endorses Rhodes or cares about the statue – he has just stated the obvious – you can’t change the past whether you agree with it or not. And the only way to beat a bad person and show them up for how bad they were is by better yourself and leaving a better legacy so you are remembered as the amazing one, the fair one, the one who made things better.

    Rhodes will be remembered as the ultimate colonial. Our current government will be remembered for Nklanda and Eskom’s blackouts. What would you like your personal legacy to be?

    Most will be remembered as those whiny ones who destroyed stuff or sat on the internet and complained but never lifted a finger to actually do anything constructive.

  35. When you hear a newsclip about 5 black guys that forcefully entered a house in Randfontein, held up and assaulted the Afikaner family at gunpoint and ransacked the house.. Who does that make you feel sorry for the most?

    That is exactly what Cecil John Rhodes did to the indigenous people of the Cape. Worse.. he took their “house”, chased them out of it and made them watch him enjoy his stay. But because this happened to people who are no longer alive we are told – very subtly – that it doesn’t really matter.

    Gareth I really don’t wanna play the race card, but I think being de-melanated puts you at a disadvantage to grasp the gravity of what Rhodes did to become who we know him to be.

  36. Every black child in grade school is taught Adolph Hitler killed six million Jews and is the worst human being that ever lived. On the other hand our children are taught “The Right Honorable” Cecil Rhodes the founder of the De Beer diamond company in South Africa who killed ten times that number of Africans is a hero and a statesman and if they study hard and do well in school they may be eligible to win Rhodes Scholarships the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world. They don’t mention the scholarships are paid for with the blood of their ancestors.

  37. Kotie says:

    I’m not normally a fan of Gareth’s opinions, but in this case I think he has it spot on. To be honest I couldn’t care less what happens to the Rhodes statue as it doesn’t affect me as a person at all or what I believe or what I stand for. If you feel that it needs to go, then let it go, as Gareth explained its really an uninformed opinion, but you are free to have your own opinion. I do however feel sorry for these groups of people who feel the need to throw “turds” at statues to try and get a point through that in the end will have no effect on their lives whatsoever. My main concern is that these are the “educated” masses acting in a very, very primitive manner. If this is South Africa’s best and brightest, I am really scared of what the future holds.

  38. sam says:

    Where are all the statues that black people built? Where are the monuments and shrines that black people built? Where are the educational programmes that black people built? You are fooling yourselves. Just live with the past and move on with your own future. Create what your ancestors failed miserably at!

  39. Cheryl says:

    Instead of ripping down old statues and the like, why not start erecting something that stands for something constructive and positive that will reflect a commitment to building the future. I’m sick to death of everyone who keeps demonstrating against and complaining about the past. Show some initiative and do something about the future and stop being so damned lazy.

    Well done Cliff on telling it like it is.

  40. Robbie Mair says:

    A very enlightening debate. I for one have enjoyed reading.

  41. Alex says:

    This morning the Dean of Free State University said that what is happening is not about the statue, but deeper issues of transformation at UCT itself. This got me wondering. Since when did issues of transformation become more important that receiving a good education? When I made my choice on where to study I went with a University that had good credentials and at which I knew that I will get a good education for my money(I had to pay every cent myself). Should students not spend more time towards their studies than worrying about politics? With a society that suffers from learned helplessness, I think it is time that students should get their priorities straight. Seems like its the old Liberation before Education story again.

  42. Marc says:

    Love it all. You honour those living, by offering sound advice, and provide wise context towards the past.

    Any country in this world would be honoured to have you as President.

  43. Ryan says:

    Well if the statue presents itself as the enormous opressive presence and reminder of all that is professed by some as an unmanagable burden – then why has the Rhodes statue only become an issue very recently. Why was there none of this when things were really heated up during the 80’s on UCT campus when, as I remember, real causes were being fought over and for?

  44. Caro says:

    People who want the statue removed are hypocrites. Then why study at UCT, which was founded by colonialists like Rhodes?

  45. Mike lindsay says:

    if the statue comes down so should the scholarships!!

  46. joy wagner strydom says:

    Gareth being following you when you, did the midnight shift’s on 702.You certainly have not disappointed.Now all you have to do is become President.

  47. Phil Curtis says:

    Why all of this talk of “feelings”? When are human beings going to learn to use the thing that makes them different from other animals – that is, the ability to reason?
    The people who choose to be offended by everything are using the same ploy that religions use to protect their otherwise indefensible positions. In doing this, they hope to gain the upper hand in their quest for power, and then they hope to use this power to subjugate those people who are capable of thought and reason and who are the ones who produce the material wealth that these parasites want to steal. Reasonable people should never bow to these hooligans – let the statue stay – we have (or had) laws that are supposed to prevent vandalism. Lock these idiots up and don’t let them out until they can show they are capable of thought and know the difference between right and wrong.

  48. Nina says:

    Well said Gareth!

    Unfortunately, we are living in a free world but some people’s minds are still not free.

  49. coleen says:

    I think the UCT / Rhodes statue debacle is a symptom of a deeper underlying issue. I think it has to do with what students see as a the lack of transformation at UCT. But what exactly do the students want to see transformed? This is a genuine desire for information so that I can understand better. And please no rhetoric!!!

  50. Aasiyah says:

    GARETH we should have a statue in honour of you..next to Cecil, so we have all the idiots in one place.Your controversial stupid thoughts makes no sense.Go and do your homework. Like your programs and your shows..nobody wants to hear you

  51. Retha Rix says:

    Dis vir my hartseer dat heel intelligente mense soos die skrywers hierbo nie sien dat ons altyd rassiste sal bly as ons gedurig die verlede voor gooi nie. Ons sal nooit aanbeweeg en mekaar met respek behandel as ons gedurig die rassekaart voor gooi nie. Ons moet leer om te werk, die tyd van bakhand staan is verby en daar is vandag baie meer belangrike issues om tyd op te mors as ‘n standbeeld…. ons het mekaar nodig…. om die standbeeld af te breek sal nie die skade van die verlede minder maak nie

  52. Sharon Gilbert-Rivett says:

    History provides us with lessons which teach us what we must do today to ensure we do not make the same mistakes in future… While South Africa, and South Africans at large, constantly focus on what has already happened and thus can never be changed, their attention is drawn away from the task at hand, which is to live the lives we have geen given to the best of our abilities, ensuring that our thoughts and actions leave positive impacts and pave a better tomorrow for those who come after us. Travel anywhere else in Africa and you soon learn how blessed we are in SA in so many ways. In Ethiopia, for example, unless you are a top performing, straight A scholar with an average above 90% you do not get to choose where you go to university or what subjects you study. The government chooses for you. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa never to have been colonised. It is also one of the poorest nations on the continent. Perhaps the students at UCT should move there and try it for size?

  53. George says:

    Well written & interesting the Shaka/Rhodes comparison. I was involved in the making of the Shaka statue for the King Shaka Airport. A sculpture produced in the western idiom of heroic bronze. I was also involved in the removing of said statue when he was not deemed kingly enough, a shepherd boy. Removed by the order of the Zulu king. There will eventually be another Shaka at the airport. He will be represented as the fierce warrior who took many lives & he will be celebrated as such. Many questions, who was the model? Why white sculptors both times? Where are the black sculptors? Is their handle on the western heroic language not sufficient to interpret a historic Zulu figure?

  54. Brad says:

    Well. Who of you that took the time to post whatever viewpoint, is prepared to contibute to creating a meaningful
    change by actually taking the effort not to just post how You feel.

    I dare you to be that positive change.

  55. Nowaka says:

    Yep, that’s what I always think when I see a road, that was built 30 or 40 years ago, being renamed after some “hero of the struggle”: Why not build your own roads and name those?

  56. Anthea Tarica says:

    Oh well put Mr. Cliff!!!!!

  57. Siya says:

    Stop playing mind games here Gareth,we both know you don’t want that statue taken down for your own selfish reasons.You are a debris of the apartheid era,it’s written all over your statement.2ndly,you must have been a F student in history,you story of Shaka is a total mess,simply because you’re trying so hard compare him to Rhodes.Lastly,your opinion was not even necessary as you are white and the fact that you don’t know your history,all you’re pushing is you racist agenda.Go to Australia,you will be appreciated more there.

  58. GASOLO says:

    The fight is against inequality…not the statue..A a rainbow nation should praise its heroes.The statue represents different things for the same population(uct)ad therein lies the conflict because no one has denied your history.You should find a book with more pages and more of the truth.

  59. Sally loubser says:

    Its time to grow up and move on in fact it’s more than 20 years. None of the students at UCT were even born in the aparteid era. Life is never fair. History is writen and changes. Stop harping on how bad everything was its time to try make things better. You are not achieving anything by removing an inanimate object. Do you actually think anything will be any different.
    Stop looking for reasons to blame our own failures, get out there, work hard get educated and make you own future.
    Do you think that the Americans should remove George Washingtons face from Mount Rushmore because he was a bad guy!

  60. Flying Ant says:

    I’m amazed that so many enlightened thinkers have been sucked into this destructive vortex of reaction.

    What cleverer way to take the heat off real and current issues than to throw the masses into futile hysteria over 100 year old history that cannot be undone.

    Can’t you all see this little plot is a hatchling of mass manipulation that serves only to sow dissent and discord?

    The authors of this offset must all be having a hearty chuckle at the insane bickering over the inflated reaction this scheme has enjoyed.

    What better way to divide people than to stoke historic emotions!

  61. Louis Luyt Jnr says:

    What I find amazing about the negative comments to this article on his blog is that people forget the overall history off the country and Gareth Cliff is so correct to imply that we should take the emotion from this past and build our own future. Construct new things! We don’t see every Afrikaner wanting to annihilate Britain because of the Boer Wars! As bad as Imperialism may have been it brought change, technology, enterprise and education. However, what we tend to forget too is that the action transpiring now at UCT would be nothing more than backroom maneuvering by the ANC to gain credibility and foothold in the Cape. The false statements of not wanting to effect the demolishing of monuments by the ANC doesn’t hold water with the history of renaming of street names all over the country, changing paintings and statues in Parliament, etc but it is in the one Province and City outside their control that a significant statement is demanded to be made now by the leadership which is to gain control and garner the masses. Remember the days when Wits classrooms were paralyzed with these same actions of toy-toying through campus and our education system is now the worse for wear! Where are we going to end with this idiocy. How long do we break down before we start building up!? The ANC has been so used to deconstruct that they have failed to leave the proverbial box and look at what can be achieved when you peak outside that box and build productively. Or maybe rather they don’t want to as the insular approach is what reaps the real personal benefits for themselves. What a pity in such a great country with probably the best potential in the world! Everyday our integrity and dignity diminish with the dramatization of these political objectives.

  62. Guki says:

    History has a habit of repeating itself— leave the statue as a reminder– LEST WE FORGET!!!
    Auschwitz still stands for this very reason!

  63. Cheryl says:

    A very well written article Gareth – thank you! Now my say! Everyone is screaming about transformation! What about transforming yourself first! Only then will the change will take place.

  64. Nonjongo says:

    just when I thought “He’s got it, by Jove he’s got I!” Gareth Cliff does the possessive whiteness of all colonial settlers! He says that history should not be “whitewashed” and then promptly ignores the fact that the very site of UCT is a complete flood of whitewashing of The Indigenous Sovereignty of the KhoiSan, the Aboriginal First Nations, whose very language , KhoeKhoe Gowab, does not even enjoy the privileged status of being enshrined in our Constitution, while non-Indigenous languages do! We acknowledge the unavoidability of parts of our heritage being European, and we passionately embrace the subsumed reality of our slave history, but we CHOOSE our KhoiSan heritage and ancestry. From your writing, Gareth you seem to have the same passion for yours – we salute you for being honest.

    Cliff seems to be a selective historian because he does not reflect on the fact that the place that was called Drie Koppen, where the Kopano, Graça Machel Hall, and other student residences and sports field now preside on Hoerrikwaggo, is where our ancestors were beheaded and their heads paraded aloft for a protracted period of time in order to deter even the thought of rebellion to the heinous history being made.

    As First Nations across the world attest, the worst historian is the one who continues the theft of Indigenous Sovereignty through the complete dismissal of its very existence in the first place!

    No Gareth, etc you have never, and can NEVER be a native for you have NEVER lived the native experience. What you can do, is to acknowledge the graciousness of native-ness shown over centuries, culminating in a willingness to forgive and reconcile instead of a Nuremberg trial process that could have ended with non-Indingenous having nowhere to go.

    No Gareth, etc the easy and glib suggestion that the past be forgotten in order to build an “us” is disingenuous at best, when entrenched privilege (never mind the few whiteness blinded Indigenous few), remains gloriously racialised through whitewashing and white washing.

    No Gareth, you make the same assumption that is made by UCT through the Maximum Price regime, its supporters, and that all racialised opportunism makes, namely, that ALL who benefited from the usurping of Indigenous Sovereignty for centuries, actually welcomed 1994 with collective gusto and a passionate longing for transformation on par with that of the oppressed Indigenous majority.

    Add to this, that the very agenda of transformation is unquestioningly deemed best placed in the hands of those who caused the need for transformation in the first place!

    Maybe Cliff will take time to research and comment the knowledge shared amongst us KhoiSan about CJR’s paedophillic abuse of our young boys – done because he could. Or maybe that’s asking too much? After all, we don’t want to whitewash history, only the non-Indigenous is apparently allowed to do so!

  65. […] South Africans (and others) who don’t understand why celebrating and memorializing Cecil John Rhodes in the […]

  66. Nick Groves says:

    quick one……did he contribute/build UCT with equal rights to education mind ? If not, the statute represents a white man, with western/modern views who used locals at minimum wage to build his empire. Comparison to tribal factions is obtuse. However, as said that was 3 generations ago, and modern apartheid (circa 1890-1930) had an act passed for minimum wage, aimed mostly at black people…thus earmarking and paving the way for white promotions only. The issue of “pouring turds”on it(The statue) is a sign of offence, but there is more to it. Modern students, must forget the past, they are in university, and should be thankful for the foot-up they received from the government – which is corrupt, and I have no desire to drop a few turds on Luthuli House’s doorstep. Its time they started a paradigm shift to westernize and actually make a viable contribution to this ailing nation.

  67. Ian stewart says:

    Come on all you hypocrites ! You want a statue of a famous / infamous man to go. But you are quite happy to use his money that you claim is tainted with blood of the people he oppressed ! You have principles hey ? But you have other principles too if people don’t like them.
    If you want all statues of people who oppressed others to go, then there will be a huge part of history blotted out. Future generations need to know who made changes to the world, either for good or bad.
    I am sure there will be those wanting a statue of Zuma one day. Why ? To commemorate a great man ? I think not. To commemorate a pathetic president who stole millions, and drove the country to the brink of bankruptcy, yes. That is what history is about. King Shaka airport ?? He was a murderer who slaughtered and raped – many times more than Rhodes did. But he was part of history. You choose to be racist and only see the bad white man, not the bad black man.

  68. miguel says:

    One thing I vê learnt in my old age is that you cant change the past.A jaded unproductive person always blames someone else in their past. You can take the stature down but Cecíl John Rhodes existed and lived. Lets move on.

  69. BlackJakalas says:

    Given the opportunity to slap the black guy who bullied me in high school and a random white peorson:

    I’d slap the the shit out of the first guy with my open hand, and then finish off the black bully with my back hand.

    We don’t like white people, we tolerate You. Same as you.
    The statue is the beginning , at the heart of this is the underlying hate and resentment that black people have towards white people.

    White South Africans have failed humanity, in a time when the world/humanity had advanced from barbarisms.

    Now U have a generation of black youth who never lived through apartheid/colonialism, but they carry the same resentment.

    It’s a statue, there are bigger obstacles to education, than that statue – some of them are alive, in parliament. Yet the historical resentment is just too great.

    Basically “the image of U disgusts me”.

  70. Ester says:

    Just accept that history is history, none of the present generation had anything to do with it. We cannot change it but we can accept it , learn from it and maybe do not make the same mistakes! Taking monuments down is in any case not going to solve any recent problems!

  71. lockstock says:

    If all you idiots feel so strongly about the wrongs that RHodes did why dont you just close down the university instead of complaining and just wa ting to remove the statue.#just saying

  72. phumi says:

    Name any historical leader who has never played it “dirty” ? some like Cecil we knew their skeleton and we were aware of their imperialistic behaviour and some a lot many who we celebrate hide their “skeleton”. I guess if the statue of Cecil were to be removed a lot of other iconic leaders statues would be removed.

  73. Brian Mc Mullen says:

    I an an Irish Nationalist living in RSA for 45 years.The big picture is being missed here.
    Ireland was brutally colonised and persecuted ruthlessly by the english crown for over a 1000 years.Hatred of the English was endemic but in modern Ireland any sensible citizen will not deny that the english did leave a legacy that has forced the Irish to benefit from their adversity and scale heights that they would probably never have otherwise achieved.
    Such is the nature of human history.
    The formerly oppressed black Africans must accept what history has forged ,relocate the staue to a museum,and have the courage to be independant of the pervasive tribalism that exists and the charade that clown XZuma is conducting in ther name.
    Stop sticking out the cupped begging hands ,stop feeling sorry for yourselves and forever blaming apartheid and get off your buttocks and actually honestly work productively as the vanquished Japanese and Germans did post WW11.
    It is no coincidence that Africa has a 100% success record in deconstruction of infrastructure and gross mismanagement of rich resources.
    Its time to create your own legacy.

  74. Nkosi Bam says:

    Well said Cliff

  75. Elzbieta Janiak says:

    Well said Gareth
    Anyway they will destroy everything from the history

  76. sithembile Ngidi says:

    I would be happy once we reach a point where by it ok to shame white people because of their skin,belittle them because of the weakness of their hair. Relate and refer them to animals, make them clean our floors food, make their parents drink our urine. Make it hard for them to walk in our land,give them no freedom at all. Since we cannot do that because of economic reasons which is more important to me, let us remove their pride, remove the statues and replace them with people who defeated them, our political leaders of the part whose name is not known and their work not acknowledged infact taken for granted. We cannot call this a democratic south Africa while the white man of past and present time still rules. Such history is not something I’m proud of nore do I have anything against Rhodes but I think such history should not be celebrated hence statues.

  77. mr says:

    to us as black Africans ,why do you forgive someone who did not ask for forgiveness ,we love and cherish white people(white African )why? .our people are still living in eKHUKHINI BECAUSE of the white people who came to our land and abuse us and take our grand fathers away to slavery ….they is nothing called freedom …we are still locked,if those white people did not come to our back yard just imagine..ngabe sikude manje ,,at the end you cant compare Nkosi SHAKA Zulu to Rhodes who came to our land and kill our people …if you see a Black African at your yard ,what will you do ..take gun a shoot him ,call police ? or try to protect your family …that what King Shaka Did ,he saw the faces of white people and he reacted to protect his people ,…let us walk and work together //”long walk to freedom” we are not there yet ….”yinde lendlela esihambayo”

  78. Joe says:

    Transformation….. I am sure I voted for transformation by enthusiastically voting “YES!” in the referendum to change SA way back in the ’90s.
    I fully understand the views around CJR – history or not, he was not a nice man. I doubt if nice men actually existed in those days. It was all about imperialism and grabbing more and more land and resources. So, yep, remove the statue – SA can only be a better place without it. I’m in. And sommer change the street names as well, I’m cool with that.
    The language Afrikaans, yep, I agree, the language of the oppressor… make English the one and only main language. I’m in for that.
    Bitch slap all white people who still treat blacks as servants and slaves. They piss me off no end as well. I’m in for that transformation as well….
    In fact, I’m all in for ALL of the transformation debates and actions currently being called for: Nationalise the mines, yes, do it. Fire all the whites, OK, do it. Increase taxes on whites, well, ok, do that as well.
    But here’s my problem: I have a feeling that the end-game of the transformation game is planned to be: get rid of all whites… chase them into the sea, send them back to Holland… kill them all…. because they remind us of the past….
    This is unfortunately where I draw the line. This country needs pro-black transformation desperately. But this final form of transformation will happen over my dead and stiff pink body. And before that happens, I promise to contribute to transformation by taking as many racists with me as possible.

  79. willem says:

    to try to reason with these blacks, you have better chance of civilized arguments in the zoo…
    The problem with some of them is the fact that everyday they wake up they are still black…so I have this to say; get use to who you are because you will always be the slave especially in your thoughts or lack there-off!!!! what I read is a joke….

  80. Zimkhitha Smith says:

    I may know nothing about history,Cecil John Rhodes or Shaka Zulu.But what I see here in these comments is how nothing really has changed.It is still “you people” or “those people”.I am no different from anyone of you as much as we are not different from Cecil John Rhodes,Gareth Cliff or King Shaka,the only thing that distinguishes man from another is only what is it they do with what they have.Instead we should be asking ourselves what is it that we can do now with what we have for good,What is done is done and we can not change that even if we try.All we ever have is the now and how we choose to utilize it.”You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.And don’t fight forces,use them” —Buckminster Fuller

  81. Why don’t the blacks build their own universities . ?Why should we pay for scholarships for idiots to come to our universities when we kn ow that they won’t pass the exams . Only a select few will make the grade. And then only with a dumbed down syllabus!.Leave our statues alone . Life in CJR time was very different to todays. What contribution has any black made to improve education or indeed any thing in South Africa? Blacks only know one thing, destroy and destroy.

  82. Anchor says:

    “Fools never differ” indeed….if you still think the removal or keeping the statue doesn’t affect you in a way,then you’re still stuck in the past which shall always be the powerful presence in our present….the people of color have a much better reason to engage in such actions especially if we still behave like the same superior “fools” our predecessors were….why can’t we change as well?
    …..that’s the very same reason people of color won’t change until what’s rightfully theirs is in their possession…all they fight for is peace and we can’t seem to understand that? What makes us different from them then? Skin color? The wealth our forefathers stole by exploiting their forefathers labour efforts?….it’s sad though….

  83. mxolisi says:

    If GC says he does not care or support removal of Rhodes statue why he bother to write and defend Rhodes with lies including this Shaka story that was distorted by history writers (whites) so that a black person (shaka) is painted the way he is painted in your eyes # history students ,shame

  84. Revolt says:

    The A N C has been in power for long time . When is South Africa going to change, ?When are the blacks going to start paying income tax, learning how to maintain the Electrical plants and paying for their own education? Getting off their butts to work for a living ? It would be nice if every white person left South Africa, then the blacks would have to fend for themselves . They can then blame themselves for all their troubles, or would they still blame apartheid which has been done away with for over 20 years!!!

  85. […] Cliff summed it up quite […]

  86. Stefan Rossouw says:

    Spot on Cliff. I think we need to build a statue of you in Cape Town somewhere. Then tear it down dramatically.

  87. CarlivW says:

    Gareth agree with you 100%! We can’t escape history by breaking down a statue or even changing the names of institutions. It is all South Africans’ history and we must embrace it and strive learn form it!

  88. […] to Shaka Zulu In April 2015 at the height of the #RhodesMustFall campaign, Cliff weighed in on his blog: “A statue of Rhodes has become the focus of a vitriolic campaign against what certain people […]

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