Rhodes statue debacle demonstrates South African extremism

The aggressive rejection of British colonialism as in the Rhodes statue debacle is only surprising in that it has taken so long to appear. While Verwoerd was vilified for his mild phrase on separate but equal education, Rhodes’s money, talking from the grave, ensured that his far more radical, biological views on the superiority of the “British race” stayed hidden from sight.

roodt_fbfotoAmusingly, Rhodes wanted to “recover the United States” for Britain as he was concerned about the genes of Irish and German immigrants diluting those of the “good Englishmen” who had colonised the country first. Of course, New York was called New Amsterdam before it was captured in the Second Anglo-Dutch War but I cannot recall whether Rhodes deemed the Dutch as genetically inferior as the Irish and the Germans.

After Rhodes’s death in 1902, South Africa was spared the wars and upheavals of Europe and Asia, brought on by competition between nations but also by the radical ideologies of communism and fascism. Alas, the bacillus of revolution has been introduced into our country, notably by the “tenured radicals” at the universities who also write in newspapers and appear on TV. Thus we are doomed to repeat the calamities of the twentieth century, including the violence and failures of postcolonial Africa.

For years the so-called English liberal in this country has gleefully fanned the flames of Boerehaat, and succeeded in marginalising Afrikaners completely. This has manifested in farm murders, name changes and the banning or marginalisation of the Afrikaans language in certain contexts. Yet never did the thought cross the English liberal’s mind that the wholesale rejection of Afrikaans and the Afrikaner tradition would logically be followed by an equally radical abjuration of all things British in a return to the origin that we have seen under Mobutu, Machel, Mugabe and many an African leader. In countries like Uganda and Malawi even Indians were expelled, as were the whites of the Belgian Congo, Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe.

Already many South African blacks are calling for the “Africanisation” of the university syllabi to exclude Western thought and knowledge from institutions of higher learning, to be replaced by “truly African” material. Whether this will also be the case in science, mathematics and accounting will be interesting to watch.

There is probably nothing we can do to stop this revolution or “transformation” that so many have clamoured for. Our only consolation is that the ones who hate South Africa the most and have most fervently advocated revolution, terror and destruction will be the first to leave, once faced with the fateful consequences of their extremist ideas.

As a friend told me the other day: all that we have to do is to hang on, to pick up the pieces later. The “dons” of UCT are in for a torrid time, though.

Read my latest essay, Raiders of the lost Empire.