HOW HAS SOUTH AFRICA BENEFITTED NOW THAT THE RHODES MEMORIAL HAS GONE?
After a month of disruption and division in South Africa the memorial of Cecil John Rhodes was moved for safe keeping, but how has this helped South Africa,?
We all know that every action does have a reaction – let us see how this mammoth victory against racism and colonialism has transformed education in South Africa, in order to provide the academics of tomorrow.
A DBE’s National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) Report, published in May 2011 provided detailed statistics on the lack of resources at public schools across the country. It is noted that, of the 24 793 public ordinary schools:
- 3 544 schools do not have electricity, while a further 804 schools have an unreliable electricity source;
- 2402 schools have no water supply, while a further 2611 schools have an unreliable water supply;
- 913 do not have any ablution facilities while 11 450 schools are still using pit latrine toilets;
- 22 938 schools do not have stocked libraries, while 19 541 do not even have a space for a library;
- 21 021 schools do not have any laboratory facilities, while 1 231 schools have stocked laboratories;
- 2 703 schools have no fencing at all; and
- 19 037 schools do not have a computer centre, whilst a further 3 267 have a room designed as a computer centre but are not stocked with computers.
Although these figures may be a few years old but I doubt that there has been any significant progress, this is because it is common knowledge that it is easier to break something down rather than to build anything new – so have our children’s education improved?
On the 11 March, 2015 the Director General of sanitation reported in Parliament that 230 000 households still use bucket toilets – how many of these did the removal of Rhodes eliminate?
One solution could be that every recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, past and present who supported the “Rhodes must go” campaign should donate the equivalent of their scholarship towards a specially designated fund to upgrade these public schools. Then just hope that the funds are not diverted towards the cost of a new jet for President Zuma.
Somehow it makes me feel that we as a country have got our priorities all wrong, Prof Jonathan Jansen of the University of the Free State was reported in the times as saying “I would love to hear a creditable leader say that other people’s memories also matter and that recognising Paul Kruger carries emotive memory for many South Africans”
But no instead we have a giggling president joking about Rhodes with that brutal dictator from Zimbabwe – the views of all South Africans do not matter!
Former governor of the reserve bank Tito Mboweni makes the following important point, when he said “ the statue should not be destroyed, but rather placed elsewhere.”
“It will act as a reminder, a point of reflection of what happened in the past.” He says South Africans should be wary of removing statues of old apartheid or colonialist leaders.
“The problem I have about the removal of statues from the past, is that in 100 years’ time, we will also be the past.”
The whole irony of the matter is the hypocrisy of these proponents of all but good sense, their selectivity in the colonial symbols that they want to get rid of, yet they do not object to:
- Wearing berets, especially red berets, yet units of the apartheid defence force wore them, a number of Scottish regiments wore them during the 17th and 18th It was not until the 1960’s that the so called revolutionaries decided to adopt the colonial ‘beret’!
- How about our so called ‘struggle heroes’ who wear their European “Gucci Suits” and flashy ties, how more colonial can you get? President Mandela showed his individuality wearing his Madiba shirts;
- All these revolutionaries want to drive the most expensive motor vehicle produced in a former colonial country;
- Why on official State Occasions is the red carpet rolled out, just like the colonialists;
No doubt these so called revolutionaries will do anything to divide the country and get rid of remnants of colonialism as long as it does not interfere in their lifestyle or affect their comfort zone.
Personally, I am very happy to continue living in the South Africa as envisaged by President Nelson Mandela, let the current statues and memorials remain and new ones be added for new heroes and icons. However, if they insist on wanting to remove all the statues, pictures and other historical memorabilia from the colonial and previous regimes perhaps the following may work.
The Union Buildings, which were after all designed by that colonialist Sir Herbert Baker, should be evacuated by these new ‘Revolutionary Leaders’ and turned into such a museum and all the current statues and paintings can be moved there and the Louis Botha statue in front of Parliament can be swopped with the Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings?
This should make everyone happy, all the ‘old’ statues go to a museum and the new regime can concentrate on removing poverty and providing facilities at those schools that lack even basic sanitation facilities.
But of course this is far too equitable to be acceptable!
Until next week,