I am glad Rhodes fell

*Scroll to the 12'45 mark, to hear me mumble incoherently

I haven’t been blogging much of late, chiefly because I have decided that I will no longer just write for writing’s sake, but only when I have something to say.

I think many bloggers fall into the trap where they feel compelled to push content, on a timetable or in reaction to events, and quality be damned. I’d rather stick to my work, than type out shit I don’t feel.

I realise this kind of thinking and behaviour leads to a drop in readership and metrics, but that’s only if readers and stats are the only goals in expressing yourself. Besides, if the content’s not quality, and you’re not writing from the heart, there’s no fucking point in blogging anyway.

So.

Until late yesterday afternoon, I had been watching the controversy around the Rhodes statue at UCT from a distance.

Then I saw a tweet, in reply to a question about “Decolonising South African universities”, saying that statues represent our history. This was, inevitably, from a white youth.

And that flipped my switch, which ended up in my reprising my Reuben Barwe accent on Al Jazeera.

They represent “our” history. I got to wondering whose history he was talking about. Was his a collective or tribal “our”?

Because this is the new Africa – black people won. Our history is a painful one of colonialism, slavery, mass murder, land theft, rape and mass subjugation of the black African people.

It is okay to remember our history, but we don’t need to maintain monuments to it. Rhodes was a mass murderer and a land thief; that is not in question. We had to fight actual wars to rid ourselves of the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes and his cronies.

Why in Africa must we still maintain the relics, monuments and idols of our British imperialist subjugators?

Monuments and symbols are a reflection of a society and culture, why have monuments to our defeated enemies?

Where else but in Africa do the victors of war maintain the monuments of their former enemies, who they defeated?

Have we, as Africans run out of heroes to build monuments to, that we clamour to defend the monuments of our very own villains?

Whose idols & monuments do I want my kids in an independent Africa seeing daily? British imperialists or liberation struggle heroes?

I believe we need to give more prominence to glorifying our liberators instead of allowing the relics of our colonisers to abide, as if we didn’t win. It’s a cultural issue.

I am okay with a remote grave or shrine somewhere at a historical site. But I want my kids to be seeing statues of our liberators about town; people who actually defeated the evil of colonialism, and not monuments to the architects of our subjugation.

I want my kids surrounded by symbols honouring the heroes, not the villains.

I say fuck it, put them in a museum. Those who wanna worship at the foot of Cecil John Rhodes can go and visit him there, like they do his grave.

Anyone who wants to genuflect at the feet of their statues is free to do so, but our public spaces should reflect the realities of not just our history but our existing realities and the future we want.

We have enough idols worth erecting; the Mandelas and Sobukwes and Bikos and Nkomos and Tongogaras and Sankaras and Nehandas deserve the honour of commanding our parks and traffic circles and university quads, because they fought to free those spaces from the CJRs and Beits and Jamesons and Victorias and Elizabeths and their legacies.

Decolonising the mind is not an event, it is a process. A part of this process is removing the notion that the alabaster master is inviolate.

I am glad that is no longer an issue, and the statue has been taken down. This can open up a larger conversation across Africa about how we maintain our colonial relics at the expense of our traditional ones (many of which were destroyed).

Just one more thing – if you think “there are bigger issues” than a statue to “focus” on, that’s your choice. Please proceed to focus on those bigger issues, or anything else you feel is worthy of your attention.

You do not have to be “distracted” by all this “hullabaloo” about a statue; nothing and nobody is preventing you from doing all the “better things to do”.

It is time to free our minds.