‘Rhodes must fall!’ shouted angry black students at the University of Cape Town. The problem is — and it is the profoundest problem of race relations — they were also demonstrating by their every action and desire that they want Rhodes to rise even higher.
Last month a black 30-year-old student, Chumani Maxwele, in a great blaze of publicity, threw ‘human excrement’ over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes on the steps to the university’s upper campus. It was followed by similar acts and protests across South Africa against symbols of white imperialism and colonialism. At UCT itself, black students stormed into a council meeting chanting, ‘One settler, one bullet!’ As would be expected, the authorities gave way, and on 9 April, after 81 years, the statue was removed before a cheering crowd of black students.