I haven’t weighed in on the debacle over whether or not the statue of Cecil John Rhodes must fall because, frankly, I know precious little about the history of Rhodes. Delivering opinions when you know little to nothing about a subject is something only politicians and Steve Hofmeyer do.
That said, I do know a number of very clever people who have made it their business to research and comment on these things, so I asked Louise Ferreira, a highly respected researcher and journalist, to break it down in a nutshell for folks like me who are ignorant of the history and the current issues.
I asked Louise what Rhodes did that was so bad it’s caused this outrage, seeing as how – according to many social media “expert commentators” he was responsible for so much infrastructure the still benefits our nation today.
“Rhodes was an imperialist determined to appropriate large chunks of (particularly southern) Africa for the British Empire, with no regard for the people already occupying the land. Among other things, he played an important role in the disastrous Jameson Raid, which was one of the factors in the outbreak of the South African War (the Anglo-Boer War). It is telling that even in an era when colonialism and imperialism was widely accepted, not all of Rhodes’ contemporaries approved of his actions.”
But if we remove the statue, are we not erasing history, and the lesson?
“The ‘erasing history’ argument is disingenuous, frankly. There is a difference between acknowledging history and glorifying someone’s legacy. Statues and names infer honour. This is why streets named after Verwoerd etc have been changed; it doesn’t mean we pretend apartheid never happened.”
And there it is – the whole complex back-and-forth debate wrapped up concisely for you, so that when you express your opinion, you’ll actually know what it’s all about.
Read Louise’s full Thought Leader article here.
© Dave Luis 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Featured image via Thought Leader