Statue removal vindicates former black academics - activist

2015-04-09 15:29
Students walk past a statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

Students walk past a statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. (Schalk van Zuydam, AP)

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Cape Town - UCT student Chumani Maxwele, who infamously threw faeces on the university's Cecil John Rhodes statue last month, said the decision to remove the monument vindicates former black academics at the institution.

On Wednesday evening, a sitting of the University of Cape Town’s special Council voted unanimously in favour of removing the Rhodes statue from its current location on UCT's upper campus.

Maxwele told News24 on Thursday that he and the students involved in the Rhodes Must Fall campaign were happy with the outcome of a month-long saga, which included many protests and sit-ins.

Dignity restored

“We welcome the decision. The dignity of former black academics [at the university] has been restored," he said.

Maxwele was referring to former UCT academics AC Jordan and Archie Mafeje, among others, who were alleged victims of discrimination at the university in the 1950s and 60s.

UCT’s SRC President Ramabina Mahapa told News24 that many of these former academics made "substantial contributions" to the university, but weren’t afforded equal recognition at the time.

Mafeje, for one, was asked to leave his post as a lecturer in the university’s social anthropology department in 1968 following pressure from the Apartheid government.

“The fact that he [Mafeje] is only being honoured now was the problem. It’s a big issue, and has taken too long,” Mahapa said on Thursday.

Transformation

Maxwele, though, was quick to add that the Rhodes Must Fall campaign had less to do with the actual monument.

“It’s really a question of transformation though. The decision will now allow us to deal with more urgent issues around transformation at UCT.”

Among these issues are demands to have some of the building names at the university’s campus changed too. These include Jameson Hall and Bremner building, among others.

The university has yet to respond to the students over these demands, Maxwele added.

The Rhodes statue is due to be removed from the UCT campus at 17:00 on Thursday.

Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  cecil john rhodes  |  monuments debate

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