David Moseley

The unbearable irrelevance of Rhodes falling

2015-04-02 15:31

David Moseley

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the hard-working UCT Protestors, but Cecil John Rhodes being boxed up and shipped back to the motherland (or wherever he’s going) ain’t gonna change a thing.

Sure, aggrieved and oppressed students (are students oppressed in 2015?) won’t have to look at his smug mug anymore while rushing to their interpretive dance and bedazzling lectures, but the current situation won’t change.

What is the current situation, you ask? Well no one seems to know, really. Racism something something. Imperialism something something. Rhodes’ head was blocking the view so students sitting on the Jameson Stairs couldn’t watch the Varsity Cup action from the Jameson Hall?

Speaking of Jameson, that fucker’s gotta go too, right? After all, here are some famous steps named after a man who led an illegal raid in an effort to violently overthrow a koeksister-loving Boer government.

I know that’s where students loiter, swap saliva and plan their marches against the continued ills suffered against the homeless, jobless and generally ignored, but come on, man, get your shovels and start digging those stairs up. Get your poop and start smearing. Write slogans on your t-shirts and do stuff where you shout a lot. Or if you’re only in first year, alot.

Students, dammit! How can you even sit on those stairs, with the spirit of Jameson seeping up into your buttocks and making you a racist (he was chums with Rhodes, so totes obvs a racist) and a Boer-hater at the same time!

You know, I believe Sir Herbert Baker did some work for Rhodes too. JZ, I expect Groote Schuur to come down any minute now.

The rest of you, see you at the Union Buildings on Tuesday (we don’t protest over Easter, dahling. This is Cape Town) with your pickaxes and chisels. We’ll take out all the racist stones Sir Herbert left behind and replace them with colourful rainbow mosaics forged from the very struggle for unity – or from the nearest Carlo Tito Mario (that’s CTM, boet).

Okay, okay. I’m being childish, but no more childish than a bunch of ranting loonies who have issues with a statue.

Even more embarrassing was the way it caused some people to lose all perspective. One newspaper editor managed to stop talking about herself for just long enough to ask on twitter if this wasn’t a “1976 moment”. Good grief, woman. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall too many deaths at the Great UCT Rhodes Struggle of 2015. It was hardly the Shit-toss Heard Around the World.

As usual, the bite-sized minds of people using the bite-sized forums of twitter and Facebook were led by a bite-sized drama. On the Rhodes debate you just needed to be a pea-brain with a loud voice. That’s why these things get so much attention. The past is an easy mark for people in this country. Wah wah wah, we feel aggrieved. Nobody loves us. This statue hurts my feelings as I walk through this plush campus with my many life opportunities opening up in front of me.

Personally, I have no horse in this race. Rhodes goes. Fine. Rhodes stays. Fine. But let’s not kid ourselves that this is about change and redressing past imbalances. This is just a lot of hot air and intellectual posturing from the students, the media and every sucker who got pulled into the messy debacle.

Right now, the Ghost of CJ is sitting on one of his lions at Rhodes Memorial (next to go, surely), quietly chuckling that he achieved everything he set out to – everlasting infamy in Southern Africa.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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Read more on:    uct  |  cecil john rhodes
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