A South African university is celebrating the removal of a British colonialist’s statue after weeks of protests.
University of Cape Town students took to social media to demand Cecil Rhodes’ statue come down, saying his legacy is tainted with racism.
Using the hashtag #RhodesMustFall, students expressed their views in a campaign that started last month.
Four weeks later, the hashtag is now #RhodesHas Fallen. The university said Wednesday the heritage authority granted it permission to remove the statue from the campus.
“These steps are being taken to ensure the safety of the statue while matters concerning its future are resolved,” the university said in a statement.
Rhodes’ statue was first unveiled in 1934 at the university, which also has a scholarship and memorial in his name.
#RhodesMustFall gained attention after activists threw excrement on the statue in March.
“He represents the former colonial representation of this country — supremacy, racism, misogyny,” says Ramabina Mahapa, president of the students’ Representative Council, which led the fight to remove the statue.
“Students are saying these aren’t the ideals that we want to have here,” Mahapa says. “The statue represents what is wrong with society.”
But in Pretoria, another group of protesters disagreed.
“This isn’t confronting history, this is erasing it,” says Steve Hofmeyr, a singer who participated in a campaign Thursday that involved activists chaining themselves to the Paul Kruger statue in response to #RhodesHasFallen.
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