David Moseley

Life in a time of no statues

2015-05-08 17:00

David Moseley

It’s been nearly two months since the statue of Cecil John Rhodes was splattered with (what appeared to be) extremely runny human poop - a loose stool, in medical parlance. Now that the statue is gone, the main poop protagonist might want to get that looked at.

As we all know, two months in the world of social media is equivalent to 100 years in real time.

In social media history, then, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign can be archived alongside the First World War (with Bring Back Our Girls somewhere in line with the Dutch arriving in the Western Cape and Kony 2012 being a cosy parallel to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs, with many believing that Kony 2012 never happened in the first place).

So what’s happened between now and then? How has our world become a better, more tolerant, more inclusive place? And what of the main role players - what has become of them while the world comes to grips with the now naked Jameson Steps of UCT?

Reports suggest the UCT vice-chancellor has gone to ground to have a spine implanted. A source reveals that Price was struggling to walk without a backbone and is seeking the aid of the world’s top spinal reconstruction surgeons so that he carry on bending over backwards to student demands.

The Rhodes Must Fall instigators, meanwhile, have a wistful air about them when reminiscing of their halcyon days of protesting and poop flinging.

Chumani Maxwele, the man credited with starting the campaign to have Rhodes removed, remembers the past well. “A lifetime ago,” he sighs. “We were so young, so full of energy and youthful vigour, we felt like we could achieve anything. And we did, you know. Our legacy of creating a catchy hashtag will live on forever. Future student protesters know now, if you want to get anything done, hashtag your cause. Failing that, chuck shit.”

Another student involved in the protest, who asked not to be named, says the protest was necessary at the time, but that things have changed. “The world was wild back then. The only way to get things done was to shout louder than the other people. But I don’t have the energy for that now. It’s almost varsity holidays. My priorities have changed.”

Interestingly, other students barely remember the kerfuffle at all. “I knew something was happening,” says a UCT first team rugby star known only by his surname, Worthington-Smythe III. “But I thought it was the drama club taking a field trip.” When asked how he felt about the Rhodes statue being removed, Worthington-Smythe simply sniffed, “Who?”

The country’s outstanding thought leaders also remember the Rhodes Must Fall days with misty-eyed fondness. “Gosh, it was so long ago, now,” says one leader of thoughts, “but it was a cause we could all get behind; inane, meaningless, and just controversial enough to get all the idiots in the country in a froth over nothing while more serious matters were glossed over – in short, the perfect opinion pages and social media fodder. The trick to creating hype is ensuring you only argue on topics that don’t require facts. All thought leaders know this…”

And what of the statue himself? When approached for a comment, all this reporter could hear was a muffled “Grflflf grflll” from inside a wooden crate.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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