By Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary General, African Socialist International
Student movement topples Rhodes’ monument. For more than 20 years the neocolonialist government of the ANC let it stand.
LONDON–One-month-long student protests known as “Rhodes Must Fall,” also known as “Poo Protests” at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa, forced the academic authority to concede to the demand of black students and staff that the statue of Cecil Rhodes must be removed from the university premises.
Similar struggles have happened in KwaZulu-Natal and in Eastern Cape.
The students in Zimbabwe also stood in solidarity with the protest in Cape Town as they voiced their desire to see Cecil Rhodes’ remains removed from its Zimbabwe burial site and sent back to Europe.
But Mugabe and Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) leadership do not share this point of view.
The students objected that this statue represented a symbol of white rule, as 21 years after the formal end of apartheid, a symbol of white power colonialism could still remain in place for all to see.
At this Cape Town university, where 83 percent of the senior management staff remain white and 77 percent of so-called professionally qualified staff’, a category that includes academic teaching staff, are white.
It is good that this foul statue has been finally removed, but the fact that it took 21 damn years before anything was done speaks volume on the nature of the African National Congress (ANC) compromise with white colonialist settlers in South Africa.
For these students, this struggle calls for reforms at the university, for integration of more African professionals into the management of this Cape Town University.
It is basically a struggle for integration into the neocolonial structure.
Under the Truth and Reconciliation, which put the oppressed African people and the oppressor European colonialist on the same level?
We are supposed to be all South Africans, the “rainbow nation,” we are now reconciled with each other, etc.
The African petty bourgeoisie, under the ANC’s leadership, has surrendered to white imperialist rulers, of which Cecil John Rhodes, the founder of DeBeers, is an historical part .
Who was Cecil John Rhodes?
It is important to define who this guy was; it helps us to understand the essence of the question the students are dealing with.
For much of the bourgeois press, Cecil John Rhodes represented the height of British imperialist white power; on one hand, unlimited plunder and theft of African land, labor and resources and on the other, murder of African people on an industrial scale.
We can’t allow anyone to think that what characterized Cecil John Rhodes above all was his anti- black ideas or otherwise his racism.
The problem is the power he had over us and our Africa, not his ideas about us.
Cecil Rhodes made the following comments, as cited in Chapter 6 of Lenin’s book on imperialism:
I was in the East End of London (a working-class quarter) yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ”Bread! Bread!” and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism…My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists.
The main problem was that he had power over African people; he had state power over Africa and African people.
He came to Africa, because he wanted to solve problems for white people.
He constructed a parasitic relationship between African people and European people.
In 1887, he told the House of Assembly in Cape Town that, “The native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of South Africa.”
In less oratorical moments, he put it even more bluntly: “I prefer land to niggers.” For most of the white people, he was a hero.
That is why Hitler described Cecil John Rhodes as “the only Englishman who truly understood Anglo-Saxon ideals and destiny,” i.e., colonialism of the non-white people of the world.
You cannot condemn Hitler without condemning those who inspired him: Rhodes, Leopold II, Churchill, Washington, etc.
He is the imperialist who dreamed of a white man’s Africa, stretching from Cairo to the Cape.
Waterman, from the Independent, London on Sunday 28 July 1996, informed us that he was a sexual predator for young boys but most importantly he was “most of all the founding father of apartheid…he set up the first black reserves, the forerunners of the “tribal homelands.”
The statue of Cecil Rhodes, like those of all white aggressors against Africa, represents the power of white people over Africa and black people.
It is a statue that honors the criminal who stole our land, freedom, history and future at gunpoint.
Cecil Rhodes’ power came from the British industrial revolution, which was financed by hundreds of years of African labor and indigenous people’s resources from the Americas.
All Cecil Rhodes’ power is based on colonialism, exploitation and theft of African resources with mass violence and murder.
The struggle of students is to win access to revolutionary scientific theory and practice.
That is, learning African Internationalism, the theory of practical struggle to defeat white imperialist power everywhere.
Since Cecil Rhodes was always clear that parasitic capitalist domination of the whole of Africa is necessary for development and peace in Europe, our African students also must be clear that a free and united Africa as a single entity is necessary for the genuine peace and development of Africa.
We must first build the apparatus or tool which will allow us to wrest power away from the Alliance of the ANC, settlers and international white power.
This apparatus, this tool, is the African Socialist International.
Build the African Socialist International!