Anti-Cecil John Rhodes Chorus Getting Louder

The debate regarding the removal of Cecil John Rhodes statues has spread to Kimberley, this as the city has several landmarks directly related to the former prime minister of the Cape Colony.

The spread to Kimberley follows protests by a group of students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) to have a statue of Rhodes removed as well as a campaign by Zanu (PF) supporters to do away with his grave in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Kimberley residents are now calling for the statue to go, saying it shouldn’t be part of their heritage. Locals say the statue reminds them of the apartheid era.

On Monday, UCT students who have been occupying the administration building since Friday, vowed to continue their sit-in until their demands are met. A group of about 30 students and non-students, who have been camping out at the Bremner building, say they want a definite date when the statue of Rhodes, a British colonialist, will be removed.

Fourth year gender studies’ student and a member of the “Rhodes Must Fall” movement, Kealeboga Ramaru, said they are beyond the issue of discussion. “We want a set date of when the statue is going to fall.

“We also want broader engagements on issues of transformation at the university. We are opening up space to all students. We are engaging exactly on those issues of transformation.”

 Last week, UCT Vice Chancellor Max Price said the statue should  not be destroyed, just moved. The students rejected his suggestion. “We are here because we are calling into question the legitimacy of the supposedly democratic process Dr Max Price has put in place to address the removal of the Rhodes statue,” they said.

Notices had been put up around the university asking for students’ input. Alumni had been e-mailed and asked to share their views.