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The Ugly True Story of #rhodesmustfall: Oxford University’s Answer to #blacklivesmatter

#Rhodesmustrise

Who will join my campaign #Rhodesmustrise?

The idea is to build in the middle of Africa a gigantic golden statue of the mighty British imperial hero Cecil Rhodes – a really big one, about four miles high, so that Kilimanjaro doesn’t get in the way – to remind all the locals for miles around what a complete and utter toilet their malarial, tsetse flyblown continent would have been if it hadn’t been for all the 19th century explorers, miners and pioneers and nation builders and District Commissioners in their white pith helmets who brought them civilisation, the rule of law and economic progress.

Some readers, I know, will be squeamish about the ethics of such a campaign.

“But won’t all that gold be very expensive?” they’ll want to know.

“And mightn’t such a statue be offensive in the way it privileges Cecil Rhodes? What about all the other great figures from African history who have done so much to enrich the world? Towering figures such as the explorer David Livingstone, the military hero Gordon of Khartoum, the orientalist Richard Burton, the explorer John Hanning Speke, and that amazing rugger player Francois Pienaar who was played in the movie by Matt Damon?”

Well I can answer the first question at least and the solution is very simple: all we need to do is get the Africans to give us back the $1 trillion in aid money we in the West have given them over the last 50 years.

This debt repayment scheme – I call it #AidJustice4Whitey – will serve at least two very important purposes.

1. We’ll be able to buy enough gold to build the Cecil Rhodes statue. (Probably. I haven’t done the maths)

2. It will teach an invaluable lesson to chippy, ungrateful, hoity-toity Africans like the students at Oxford University currently leading the #rhodesmustfall campaign for the removal from Oriel College of a statue of one of its benefactors Cecil Rhodes.

Cecil Rhodes – African hero

Cecil_RhodesCecil Rhodes was an extraordinary self-made man who rose from almost nothing to become the founder of the De Beers mining company and Prime Minister of Cape Colony and who carved out from southern Africa’s warring tribes the countries that would later become Zambia and Zimbabwe. When he died in 1902 he left a handsome legacy both to his old college – Oriel – and also for the establishment of annual Rhodes scholarships. These enable brilliant students from around the world to come to Oxford and learn – or, in Bill Clinton’s case, attempt to learn – to be proper English gentlemen.

Past recipients include everyone from singer/songwriter/actor Kris Kristofferson and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the author and thinker Edward De Bono and German diplomat Adam von Trott, executed in 1944 for his involvement in the plot to kill Hitler.

Ntokozo Qwabe – good for a Scrabble score (if proper names were allowed) but not much else…

Ntokozo-Kwabe-138Current recipients of the Rhodes scholarship, unfortunately, include a South African chap by the name of Ntokozo Qwabe.

I say “unfortunately” because Qwabe has taken it upon himself to bite the hand that feeds him.

Instead of offering a prayer of gratitude each morning to his benefactor, the ungrateful tic wants to help write Rhodes out of history by insisting that his statue be removed from Oriel College, lest its colonial and racist associations violate impressionable undergraduates’ safe spaces.

Qwabe refuses to accept that he is being a nauseating hypocrite here.

He has written on his Facebook page:

“Rhodes did not have a scholarship. It was never his money. All that he looted must absolutely be returned immediately. I’m no beneficiary of Rhodes. I’m a beneficiary of the resources and labour of my people which Rhodes pillaged and enslaved.”

And:

There is absolutely nothing more fulfilling than seeing socially conscious black students dominate white universities, and do so ruthlessly and decisively!

(Historical note: few did pillaging and enslaving better than the Bantu tribes of Southern Africa – whose ceaseless warring in the late 19th century was one reason why Rhodes found it so easy to claim the vast territory of what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe. War and famine meant the area had become depopulated. Before that, of course, the land belonged to the Bushmen whom Qwabe’s Bantu ancestors would have treated at least as brutally and mercilessly – and, frankly, racistly – as any white man ever did).

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh: social justice warrior who went to South Africa’s Eton

1523769_10152265167954923_1120933950_oOne of Qwabe’s key allies in this campaign is another black South African scholarship student called Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh.

Young Sizwe knows a lot about oppression and suffering, thanks to his family’s political associations with the post-Mandela regime in South Africa. His father Dali Mpofu is a prominent South African politician – a former lover of Winnie Mandela’s – who, acquired part of his considerable fortune when his pal President Thabo Mbeki gave him the plum job of CEO of the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC). After countless scandals and a massive government bailout, Mpofu quit with a golden handshake of R13.4 million (worth nearly $2 million at the time).

Mpofu senior has since fallen out with the ruling ANC and is now a leading member of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters. Malema is best known for his trademark phrase: “Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer – and recently told the Oxford Union of his plans to expropriate all farms, banks and mines owned by white South Africans. Mpofu senior now fancies himself as a populist socialist revolutionary – as, it seems, does his son Sizwe.

Let’s hope that when Sizwe presents himself as a man of the people no one looks too closely at his privileged educational background – he went to St John’s College in Johannesburg, widely regarded as South Africa’s answer to Eton.

Mpofu-Walsh came to Oxford on a scholarship sponsored by the Jewish philanthropist George Weidenfeld (now Lord Weidenfeld), the publisher who fled the Nazis from Vienna to Britain in 1938.

In his long life Lord Weidenfeld has shown nothing but gratitude to Britain for the welcome it gave him and the advantages it afforded him. Not so his scholarship beneficiary Mpofu-Walsh, whose immediate response to the privilege of studying at Oxford was to spend his time undermining his host institution – and its values of tolerance and free speech.

His first move was to disrupt a debate at the Oxford Union on whether Britain should pay reparations to its former colonies. Mpofu-Walsh – seizing the opportunity to promote #rhodesmustfall – held up a banner saying: “Brutality should not be debated.” Asked to elaborate on this theme, one of his crew ‘explained’:

“The fact that we are asking whether a debt is even owed is problematic, not only problematic, but it is overtly offensive to people who are descendants of colonisation.”

brutality-should-not-be-debatedSubsequently, Mpofu-Walsh helped succeed in getting the Oxford Union to issue a humiliating statement in which it “acknowledged” that it was “institutionally racist.” Its crime? On the night of the debate, it had posted a flyer for a cocktail called The Colonial Comeback.

The black power origins of Rhodes Must Fall: “We must not listen to whites…[they] have to be killed.”

The campaign was launched early in 2015 at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa by a small group of black activists. Their stated objective was the removal of a Cecil Rhodes statue from the campus. Really, though it was a power grab by black supremacists who used #rhodesmustfall as a way of intimidating white students and staff at the university.

Among their supporters-from-afar is Assata Shakur, a former Black Liberation Army leader and escaped convicted murderer who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List.

f-rhodes

The campaigners blocked roads, threw human excrement and desecrated the University’s war memorial with the words “Fuck Rhodes”. Their leader Chumani Maxwele – an activist known as the “poo-flinger” – reportedly stormed into a lecturer’s office, banged on her table and shouted “we must not listen to whites, we do not need their apologies, they have to be removed from UCT and have to be killed”.

Led by a hapless, irretrievably left wing Vice Chancellor (and former Rhodes scholar) named Max Price, the University’s authorities proved pusillanimous in the face of this bullying. A University Council meeting was invaded by Rhodes Must Fall activists chanting “One Settler, One Bullet” and jumping on the tables. The Council cravenly elected to have the statue removed.

But in the six months since the statue was pulled down, the violent intimidation hasn’t stopped. Now the same mob has moved on, hijacking a protest against tuition fees and using it as an excuse to disrupt lectures, destroying property and throwing excrement into exam venues. Desperate professors have taken to holding exams at secret locations around Cape Town: which Rhodes Must Fall nevertheless managed to infiltrate and shut down.

Yet Rhodes Must Fall are not remotely representative of ordinary students, most of whom would much prefer to be left alone to get on with their studies. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one black UCT student told a newspaper:

“‘Rhodes Must Fall’ are a self-appointed group of people that are starting riots to move their own agenda. Clarity needs to be made about this matter because people are now thinking every black student that is protesting is part of ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ and this will lead to a negative end.”

Rather, Rhodes Must Fall are a very small but very aggressive minority who bully and intimidate the peaceable majority much as Nazis did in Germany in the 1930s. The comparison is worth making because Rhodes Must Fall activists have expressed solidarity with another black South African student leader Mcebo Dlamini who earlier this year declared that he “loved” Adolf Hitler and admired him for his “organisational skills”. Rhodes Must Fall tweeted in solidarity with the hashtag #FreeMceboDlamini.

Oxford surrenders the pass

Now you know the background to the story, you’re in a better position to appreciate the insane stupidity and politically correct cowardice of the response in Oxford by Oriel College.

The Oriel College authorities have chosen to cave in to this vexatious, pettifogging, minority-interest campaign and have sought permission from Oxford City Council to have a listed plaque commemorating Rhodes removed. They have also promised to launch “a structured six-month listening exercise on the statue” as part of the “college’s continuing commitment to being at the forefront of the drive to make Oxford more diverse and inclusive of people from all backgrounds, and to address directly the complex history of colonialism and its consequences.” (Rhodes Must Fall have already said that six months is far too long to wait: they want the statue to go NOW)

They also issued a craven statement distancing themselves from their benefactor:

Many of Cecil Rhodes’s actions and public statements are incompatible with the values of the College and University today. In acknowledging the historical fact of Rhodes’s bequest, the College does not in any way condone or glorify his views or actions.

The behaviour of Mpofu-Walsh, Ntokozo Qwabe and their crew may be ugly, bullying, illiberal and tiresome – but it’s not nearly as reprehensible as Oriel College’s decision to indulge and gold-plate it.

What about the vast majority in Oriel College and the University beyond who don’t agree with the Rhodes Must Fall campaign?

What about the vast majority of Oxford Union members who’d prefer to enjoy their debates unencumbered by spoilt little South African rich kids on scholarships trying to silence free speech and wave dumb placards no doubt with half an eye on a future career in the cesspool of African politics?

What about the myriad other Rhodes scholars who are properly conscious of their good fortune in having won the lottery in life – an Oxford education – and frankly don’t want either the scholarship in particular or their Oxford education in general shat upon by a gang of jumped up little nobodies playing the race card?

What about all the undergraduates who worked exceptionally hard and came to Oxford to study, not to find themselves dragged unwillingly into the machinations of the political culture which gave us Winnie Mandela, burning tyre necklaces, “One Settler, One Bullet”, one of the world’s highest murder rates and the inexorable decline of Africa’s most thriving economy?

Oriel College – Oxford University too – of course have a duty to their students. But they have an even greater one to their institutional integrity. That is, they are bigger, far far bigger and more important, than the here-today-gone-tomorrow individuals who study there.

If Rhodes falls then it will mark the beginning of the end for Oriel College. And for Oxford too.

That is why #Rhodesmustrise.

 

 

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