Rhodes Must Fall campaign gains momentum at UCT

2015-03-23 21:34
A student protests near the Cecil Rhodes statue at UCT. (Twitter)

A student protests near the Cecil Rhodes statue at UCT. (Twitter)

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Cape Town - University of Cape Town students are demanding that management make public its stance on their calls to have the statue of Cecil John Rhodes destroyed.

According to City Press the students are also demanding that Vice Chancellor Dr Max Price convene an urgent council meeting on Friday to discuss their request to have the statue razed to the ground.

These two demands are contained in a memorandum that the students submitted to the university’s management this afternoon, following a mass meeting. The meeting, he said, was attended by more than 600 people.

Student Representative Council member Ramabina Mahapa said: “The vice chancellor should call a special meeting on Friday. We also need management to give us their positions on the matter. Do they want the statue destroyed or what.”

As the campaign to have the statue moved enters its the third week, students have now upped the ante by occupying the Bremner building, the university’s administration block. The occupation began on Friday, and Mahapa said the staff had to use a different building this morning.

Calls for the statue to be destroyed surfaced three weeks ago after a student had tossed the statue with human excrement. They claimed that it represented what Rhodes stood for: racism and white supremacy.

Price said that, personally, he thought the statue should be removed from the centre of the university because it gave the impression that the institution is proud of Rhodes and his achievements.

But Ramabina said Price’s personal opinion was little comfort.

“The VC has given us his personal view, but it is not binding and it doesn’t assist. He can go to council and change his views. They need to show us commitment. We have been talking to them about this for a long time and nothing has happened; we need to know their stance on the issue.”

Facebook group

Students have created a Facebook page called Rhodes Must Fall. They are also driving the campaign through Twitter, under #RhodesMustFall.

The campaign has spilt over to Rhodes University in Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape. Students at Rhodes are calling for management to change the university’s name. They have complained about institutional racism, an alienating culture and lack of transformation.

Last week the students met with Vice Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela and discussed some of the issues.

Student Representative Council president Siyanda Makhubo said, based on that meeting, students would submit a memorandum of demands to management on Wednesday.

“The name change is a serious issue. Rhodes is a symbol of our past. But it looks like the university is not committed and not ready for transformation. Rhodes was a genocidal racist. He exploited the people of Southern Africa,” Makhubo said. The institution’s culture and curriculum were exclusionary in nature.

“We demand curriculum changes; we want to learn about Robert Sobukwe, Steve Bantu Biko, Thabo Mbeki and South Africa’s aspirations.

Last week, Mabizela told City Press that the issue of changing the name had not come before council. He said he would not express his personal opinion because it would compromise him when the matter came up for debate.


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

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