Africa,  Southern Africa

The Rhodes we must travel together

More at The Guardian about the #RhodesMusFall campaign – which is demanding that Oxford University, and I suppose the UK more generally, remove statues commemorating those involved in colonialism or imperialism – reminds us for the second time this week how much South Africans have to offer progressive politics. Earlier we saw how the “Pencil Test” devised in that country could help transform Hollywood in a progressive direction.

#RhodesMustFall’s biggest weakness is its narrow focus. It is no good being on the right side of history if you limit the scope of your aims. The campaign needs to be more ambitious and to have an international flavour if it is to succeed in its reasonable and righteous demands. Let it be said loud and clear: All countries should rip down the statues of their forebears who acted badly by modern moral standards.

There should be a UN department to monitor that this is done, and kept up-to-date as morality evolves.

South Africa can – indeed, must – lead the way by tearing down statues of the Zulu king, Shaka, who was responsible for massive social displacement, war and subjugation of neighbouring tribes.

Of course our own statue of Shaka in Camden, London will have to go too.

Ironically a statue of Shaka outside an airport named in his honour was taken down temporarily a few years ago because critics deemed it not warlike enough. This, sadly, is not a good indicator of the success of this South-African-led campaign.

But we must urge the South Africans to persevere with this cleansing and when this is done, we can all move forward to harmonised global morality together.

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