South African students at Rhodes University demand name change

Sign the campaign! Rhodes University must change its name

Members of the Black Students Movement at Rhodes University called for the university to change it’s name, questioning the decision to uphold colonial oppression and injustice for the sake of a ‘brand’. This protest was arranged by Rhodes students to show solidarity with UCT students last week who called for a statue of Cecil John Rhodes to be removed from their campus #RhodesMustFall.

If we are truly committed to transformation and undoing the injustices of the past at Rhodes University, we should honour Makana struggle heroes, not the so-called ‘founder’ of the southern African territory of Rhodesia.

With the current wave of student activism demanding the removal of UCT’s Cecil John Rhodes statue, we must act now to turn this momentum into tangible change.

Let’s support Rhodes students and alumni in their call to change the name of Rhodes University

Let’s support Rhodes students and alumni in their call to change the name of Rhodes University. Removing Rhodes statues and his name from our nation’s universities is only the start, as Rhodes student, Lihle Ngocobozi, creator the #RhodesSoWhite conversation, puts it:

“…the challenging of the presence of historical artifacts of colonial violence should not be reduced to a removal of a statue, or the changing of the name of Rhodes University, or a social media campaigns. These are all entry points into broader conceptions of transformation and black students laying claim to space and the right for their space to be reflective of a transforming institution.” [1]

Rhodes Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, is under public pressure and admitted yesterday in a radio 702 interview that “[t]here is no process underway [to change the name of the university] at the moment.”

Together we can

Together we can demand Rhodes University follows UCT’s lead and put in place a formal public consultation process and a commitment to change the name of the university.

[1] Rhodes So White, by Lihle Ngocobozi for Oppidan Press.

[2] Rhodes VC says university’s brand is separate to that of Cecil John Rhodes, Aaisha Dadi Patel for the Daily Vox.

Dear Vice-Chancellor Dr Mabizela,

We, the undersigned Rhodes University alumni, students and members of the public, call on you to initiate a process to change the name of Rhodes University. Changing the name of Rhodes does not sweep our history under the carpet; if anything, not changing the name perpetuates the past. We welcome your openness to discussion on this issue, but we ask that you commit to a formal consultation process to change the name of the university. We ask that this process also engage the broader Makana Municipality and that local struggle heroes are considered in the renaming of the institution. You may have concerns that renaming the university will be costly and that some donors may decide not to support the institution, but many of us are committed to the university’s future and to real transformation. You will therefore have our full support. This campaign is about coming to terms with our history and moving forward. We hope you will join us in being on the right side of history.

Together for justice,

Estelle Prinsloo, Mpho Moshe Matheolane, Danielle Bowler, Ayesha Omar, Benjamin Fogel, Ines Schumacher, Romi Reinecke, Claire Waterhouse, Niren Tolsi and Nina Butler.

Present students, alumni and members of the public sign here

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