For Justice Rhodes Must Fall

2015-03-23 10:15

There is a debate started by the students of the University of Cape Town followed by students at Rhodes University ; its not a new debate but its also not one that has been explored before.

In South Africa’s quest for a new order many issues were put under carpet for many reasons I can only assume I know. A hostile country on a brink of civil war needed to be careful of not only what politicians said but what they did as well.

Forgiveness, unity and reconciliation became the focus of politicians from all sides; those who wanted justice and transformation were put on hold. It wasn't the time to talk about issues that were to offend and make certain groups feel the need to be defensive.

A Constitution was adopted at a time of high reconciliation emotions; the Constitution said little about justice but stressed reconciliation.

Here were are again, 21 years later, asking questions about matters our Constitution, our leaders could have answered but didn't because of fearing the unknown.

The history of colonialism is a history of racism; its written in narratives that favour the oppressors. Its written in narrative that conceal the truths and glorify the misfortunes of the oppressed people whose Human Rights were stumbled upon.

The students of the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University want the statue of Rhodes to fall. Its really not about the statue but about the symbol the statue stands for.

It symbolises racism, it stands for oppressors, it still conceals the truth and glorifies the misfortunes of the oppressed. It stands as a reminder of the unjust system that stole and displaced, a system that killed and slaved, a system that dehumanised a people.

Removing the statue is about challenging these narratives. It more about talking to the psychology of the thinking of both black and white South Africans not about the tangible statue.

It is sad that when given the opportunity to write a new South African history in 1994 we chose to continue with these narratives.It is now time in the history of our country where we should not be scared and fear the unknown, its time when we stand up with a new voice of justice.

When DA commented on the #RhodesMustFall debate, it came in defence and reminded us about Nelson Mandela. The old man is now a political football used by many politicians to defend their positions.

Its time we reject the abuse of Nelson Mandela’s name. Every time we speak about transformation and justice we are told of what Nelson Mandela wanted. Mandela was not a god, he wasn't a messiah; he said that himself. We cant take what he said as bible, we are allowed to stand our grounds opposite to his thinking.

While he was happy to have hotels named after him and Rhodes jointly ( Mandela-Rhodes Hotel in Cape Town ) we are not happy to have a statue of Rhodes a colonial master being the centre piece of a University that praises values of our constitution and proclaims itself as a champion of transformation.

Mandela preached unity and reconciliation at a time that needed that, his teaching and actions were careful and prevented war. We thank him for that but he was certainly not setting a new way of thinking and doing things. Times change, its time for South Africa to seek justice, and let reconciliation follow as it has taken a front seat for the past 21 years but has not shown any progress.

Now its time for us to write our own history, not one dictated by the prescribes of the Mandela Holy Book of Reconciliation.

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