I was an undergraduate student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) between 1989 and 1993. I subsequently worked at the university until 2002. During my tenure as staff member, I worked closely with two Vice-Chancellors – Stuart Saunders and Mamphela Ramphele. (I might write some more about that on another occasion.)
While a student and a staff member, I was involved in anti-apartheid politics and some of the work on institutional transformation.
Many times, I walked up to the Upper Campus and would pass the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. It was positioned prominently, overlooking the rugby fields. Despite my growing political awareness, I had accepted the presence of the statue as a necessary feature of the university’s landscape. It was in line with the rooftop of the university’s main hall (Jameson Memorial Hall), which in turn was aligned with Devil’s Peak in the distance.
So, when the #RhodesMustFall movement started in 2015, I had to do some serious reflection. I am not going to use this opportunity to make excuses for what I now accept to have been blindspots in my education. As an alumnus of the university, I joined together with other progressive alumni/ae to see to what extend we could support the movement.
I was fortunate to have my name added to two articles, which appeared in the Daily Maverick. The first can be found at this link (https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-12-20-letter-to-the-editor-beneath-the-surface-of-the-uct-convocation-agm/) and I have uploaded the second one here: Op-Ed_Restorative_justice_at_UCT_Daily_M (1).