‘Colonialism had never really ended’: my life in the shadow of Cecil Rhodes (long read)

After growing up in a Zimbabwe convulsed by the legacy of colonialism, when I got to Oxford I realised how many British people still failed to see how empire had shaped lives like mine – as well as their own


Guardian: There was no single moment when I began to sense the long shadow that Cecil John Rhodes has cast over my life, or over the university where I am a professor, or over the ways of seeing the world shared by so many of us still living in the ruins of the British empire. But, looking back, it is clear that long before I arrived at Oxford as a student, long before I helped found the university’s Rhodes Must Fall movement, long before I even left Zimbabwe as a teenager, this man and everything he embodied had shaped the worlds through which I moved.

I could start this story in 1867, when a boy named Erasmus Jacobs found a diamond the size of an acorn on the banks of the Orange river in what is now South Africa, sparking the diamond rush in which Rhodes first made his fortune. Or I could start it a century later, when my grandfather was murdered by security forces in the British colony of Rhodesia. Or I could start it today, when the infamous statue of Rhodes that peers down on to Oxford’s high street may finally be on the verge of being taken down.

Simukai Chigudu. London, England. Photograph by David Levene 12/1/21
‘Colonialism had never really ended’: my life in the shadow of Cecil Rhodes – podcast
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  1. The lament of the partially self reflecting colonizers, is, ” but look at everything we have given you. We have brought industry and knowledge. We helped you.”

    But, since forever, when a group travels to meet another, they do not come with visions of superiority and domination, if their intent is good. Knowledge has long been currency between cultures , and the discovery of knowledge far exceeding anything Britain or Rome has to offer, common to all cultures of the earth, means it was distributed without an army. To this day, one of the elements of ongoing colonization and domination, is to refuse this, ridicule it, and ignore it. It is the proof, that none of their brutality was warranted or even humane, and that the entire notion of “gift” is not what happened. Conquest and theft is what happened.

    • The US has a wound. If we do not attend to it, the infection will get worse. True unity is not a token. Cecil Rhodes must fall, and here in the states, our fascination and attachment to Britain or Rome must fall also. We are not them, and we do not want to be them. We are in a position to do something incredible and beautiful, and instead we wage war, and plunder and stomp around like a selfish bratty child. Our immaturity and greed are the embarrassment of the world. Our waste of potential, will be studied for eons. Every single statue of any person should be torn down tomorrow, including and most especially, Rushmore. Rushmore Must Fall.

    • Take a hard look at trump, and know we are looking in the mirror. If we do not seize the moment to use him as a catalyst, then we mark another failure to achieve self awareness.
      The wall should come down also, and Trump should pay for it.

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