Rhodes statue in Oxford will not be removed

2016-01-29 08:01
Members of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford group. Picture: Facebook

Members of the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford group. Picture: Facebook

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City of Cape Town 'open to debate' removal of Rhodes statue

2016-01-28 16:35

An unidentified group of people attempted to cut down the Cecil John Rhodes statue in Cape Town's Company's Garden on Wednesday. We spoke to Belinda Walker from the City of Cape Town about the city's stance on colonial-era statues and symbols. Watch. WATCH

London - An Oxford University statue of 19th century white supremacist empire-builder Cecil John Rhodes will not be taken down despite a heated campaign by students, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday.

Oriel College, which owns the statue of Rhodes, has ruled out removing it over fears that it could lose donations worth some £100m (R2.3bn) if it did, the newspaper reported.

"Following careful consideration, the college's governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place," the Telegraph quoted Oriel as saying in a statement.

Rhodes gave his name to the territories of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe and Zambia, and founded the De Beers diamond company.

The Briton was also a donor to Oriel, one of the 38 colleges which make up Oxford University, and endowed the Rhodes Scholarship, which has helped non-British students like former US president Bill Clinton and ex-Australian prime minister Tony Abbott study at the university.

Rhodes Must Fall campaign

Many current students objected to the presence of his statue in the heart of the historic city, inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign which prompted the removal of a Rhodes statue at the University of Cape Town last year.

"To put someone so literally on a pedestal is to tacitly condone their legacy," Daisy Chandley, one of the Oxford campaign's organisers, said last month.

But others have warned against taking the statue down, saying that to do so would be to rewrite history.

Former president FW de Klerk wrote to Britain's Times newspaper last month calling the plan "folly" and adding: "If the political correctness of today were applied consistently, very few of Oxford's great figures would pass scrutiny."

Oxford's chancellor, Chris Patten, reportedly referred to the row in a speech this month, saying: "Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been".

The Telegraph reported that Oriel College had already seen £1.5m in donations cancelled due to its ambiguous position on the statue and that some alumni had written in saying they were cutting the college out of their wills.

"The overwhelming message we have received has been in support of the statue remaining in place," Oriel's statement added.

"The college believes the recent debate has underlined that the continuing presence of these historical artefacts is an important reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism still felt today."

Read more on:    oxford university  |  cecil john rhodes  |  uk  |  monuments debate

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