Rhodes’ statue: Witness’ account of historic pulling down - CVIEW NEWS

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Thursday, 9 April 2015

Rhodes’ statue: Witness’ account of historic pulling down

The historic and immensely symbolic event of pulling down Rhodes’ statue at the Green Mile bottom of Jammie Steps, UCT. You will feel the relief on the faces of the protesters-as many lash out at the statue with sticks and stones, others reach up to deal it torrents of slaps. Rhodes’ persecution didn’t end there. The statue was blindfolded and red liquid poured on it like blood ritual. And listening to the songs and jubilation you will think that the final bastion of Apartheid just came down.
As preparations were made to remove the statue of British colonialist Cecil Rhodes from the University of Cape Town on Thursday, white groups launched protests to protect what they see as their heritage.
South Africa’s oldest university voted on Wednesday to remove the monument from its campus after a month of student protests against a perceived symbol of historical white oppression.
On Thursday morning, the youth wing of white Afrikaner solidarity group AfriForum handed a memorandum to parliament in Cape Town to “demand protection” for their heritage.
The Afrikaners are descendants of mainly Dutch settlers from the 17th and 18th centuries and dominated South Africa’s white-minority government before the end of apartheid in 1994.
They are no supporters of Rhodes, who was on the British side in the Anglo-Boer war at the beginning of the 20th century, but have seen statues of their own heroes come under attack in the wake of the university protests.


Afrikaner men, some of them in quasi-military outfits, demonstrated on Wednesday at the statue in Pretoria of former president Paul Kruger – which had been splattered with paint – and at the monument to the leader of the first settlers, Jan van Riebeeck, in Cape Town.
“The Afrikaner is – from a historical perspective – increasingly being portrayed as criminals and land thieves,” AfriForum said in a statement.
“But apartheid freedom fighters are certainly not the untainted heroes Government is making them out to be.
“If the heritage of the Afrikaner is not important to Government, our youth members will preserve our own heritage.”
Their attitude is in contrast to that of the council of the University of Cape Town, which voted to remove Rhodes after accepting his statue made black students uncomfortable on campus.
The imposing bronze statue of a brooding Rhodes was due to come down later on Thursday. A decision on its final destination is yet to be made, but it is likely to end up in a museum.
Its disappearance is unlikely to end the debate over the pace of racial transformation, which goes beyond symbols to encompass economic and social divisions 21 years after the end of apartheid.

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