A new plaque near the condemned Rhodes statue at Oxford University identifies the billionaire as a “committed colonialist” and exploiter of Africans.
Last Monday, Oriel College in Oxford unveiled a plaque in honor of Cecil Rhodes, who is commemorated by a statue on the college’s main façade. The explanatory display was erected to the statue after its survival was threatened last year during a wave of BLM [Black Lives Matter] rallies, with some calling for the monument to the imperialist to be demolished.
According to the monument, Rhodes was a “a “dedicated British colonialist” who “made his money by exploiting the minerals, land, and peoples of southern Africa.” Some of his actions resulted in significant loss of life and drew condemnation at the time and thereafter.” It goes on to say that Oriel College had hoped to have the monument removed, but on legal advice, they decided to maintain it. It also mentions how the statue became a point of contention during the protest movement.
The plaque has been panned by several commenters, who feel it is unbalanced and unmeasured.
A new Rhodes plaque has been unveiled.
They claimed that history was “balanced.” They promised “more” history. Nonetheless, this is what we get. There is nothing positive to report. There is no counter-argument. Such statements must surely be refuted by unsophisticated, biased placards like this? pic.twitter.com/vsPqtwLLEt Oriel obtained approval from an independent commission to remove the statue earlier this year, but the college’s governing body decided to keep it because it would cost too much and take too long to remove it.
In June, more than 150 Oxford dons entered the argument, declaring that they would not teach Oriel undergraduate students if the institution kept the monument. Some speculated that the professors were attempting to “blackmail” the college into removing the statue.
To many, Rhodes represents the pinnacle of colonialism. From 1890 to 1896, the mining magnate-turned-politician held a near-monopoly on the global diamond trade while also serving as Prime Minister of Cape Colony (a British colony in modern-day South Africa). His British South Africa Company established Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia) in southern Africa and named it after him.
Rhodes’ will also specified that his estate be used to establish a scholarship program. It is the world’s oldest and maybe most prestigious graduate scholarship program, attracting students from all around the world to Oxford University. Several prominent leaders, including former US President Bill Clinton, were given the scholarship while they were young.
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