Kimberley protesters want Cecil John Rhodes memorial removed
The Cecil John Rhodes Memorial on an island off Du Toitspan Road, Regiment Way & D’Arcy street in Kimberley is one of the longest standing monuments of Cecil John Rhodes in South Africa. The North-facing bronze statue was erected in 1902 after the death of Cecil John Rhodes. The statue depicts Rhodes mounted on a horse holding a map of Africa in his hands clearly symbolizing his imperialist vision and intention of expanding the British Empire into African territory.
The residents of Kimberley marched around the barricaded statue pleading for the removal of the statue on Friday afternoon. The protesters say that the removal of the colonial statue is long overdue as it glorifies colonialism, represents the structures of racism, white supremacy with an inherited culture of white dominance and an inherent need for conquest and dominance over Africa.
Kimberley Artists staged a protest by reading anti-apartheid, anti-racism and anti-colonial poetry and put up artworks of anti-apartheid struggle heroes around the fence barricading the statue – a fence which was put up right after the success of the Rhodes Must Fall movement at The University of Cape Town.
Amongst the protesters were elderly citizens who lived through the apartheid regime making it clear that the statue is a painful reminder of their lived experiences.
“They belittled us. They made us non-entities. And they called us Kaffirs.” Said one of the elders at the protest. She further pleaded with the youth of the day to end white supremacy in South Africa.
The mayor of Kimberley said that while he is unable to say for certain that the statue will be removed, the government of the day is in support of transforming the society of Kimberley.
One of the protesters said “History is constantly being rewritten and recreated. So this is our way of rewriting history in our city.”