The renewed clamour by the educated ignorant for the removal of the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University reeks of hypocrisy (The Mercury, June 11).
Afflicted by RDS – Rhodes Derangement Syndrome – which has induced emotional hyperventilation, their demands are devoid of credibility for the following reasons.
- At a conference held at Oxford University in 2003 attended by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former US President and Rhodes scholar Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, the Rhodes Trust was renamed the Mandela-Rhodes Trust. Concluding his speech on that occasion, Mandela quipped: “Cecil, you and I are going to have to work together now” (Daily Express, June 10, 2020).
- Oxford University Chancellor Lord Chris Patten has pointed out that each year at least twelve African students benefit from the Mandela-Rhodes Trust.
- The custodians of the Mandela-Rhodes Trust, which is worth £100 million, have threatened to withdraw it if the University bows to demands to remove Rhodes’ statue.
As Lord Patten told the protesters, if they cannot embrace freedom of thought and the spirit shown by Mandela in 2003, they should consider enrolling at some other university. “If the problems associated with Rhodes’ history were alright for Nelson Mandela, I have to say it’s alright with me,” said Patten.
History without context is like a building without a foundation. For a professor of black studies at Birmingham University, Kehinde Andrews, to justify the removal of statues because “statues are not about history, statues are about a certain version of history,” (The Mercury, June 11), shows ignorance of how history and heritage are compiled. Besides, what makes Andrews think that his version of history is more appropriate?
History is a vast, multi-faceted tapestry of human experience. CJ Rhodes is a part of that tapestry. Whatever views are held.
Sent into The Mercury and published, June 12, 2020.