Saturday, August 5, 2017

Renaming Rhodes University

Daily Maverick

by STEPHEN GROOTES

Renaming Rhodes University: In search of a new name to reflect the past, present and future




If you didn’t know by now that South Africa is a complicated place, you have not been paying attention. We are a complicated mix of people, classes, languages and, sometimes, nations. This means that processes that in other more boring places would attract virtually no attention are much more complicated here. Emotions become enflamed as people argue over the past and how it affects their present. The situation around Rhodes University and its name is a good example of this. And the process that will be designed to change it is a microcosm of some of the debates we, as a nation, should have about our own names, statues and symbols.

I remember my Rhodes days fondly. They’re a long time ago now, but I was lucky enough, privileged enough, to spend four years there living what you could call the ideal student lifestyle. Somehow I actually ended up with a degree. At the time, the name “Rhodes” was already an issue. But not a huge issue. There was an identity given to the name of the university that was about more than the name and the history, and the awful colonial activities of Cecil John...

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