Why not Dress Rhodes in the Slave Collar of Racism?

Collared Rhodes Oxford
Permitted Development Perhaps?
image for illustration only -@ Chris A Weitz – photomontage by Lilita Grinberga

Anthony Gormley has suggested turning Cecil Rhodes statue to face the wall in shame. My suggestion is meant to be a bit more explicit. A slave collar points to the history of racism as a rationalisation of slavery.

It should also be slighlty easier to process as a planning issue? Permitted development perhaps?

Finally, future tourist guides may ask: Whose honour and whose dignity is at stake here? Even the most simple answers might help to expose the moral and intellectual vacuity exhibited by the not so learned voices of unreconstructed Aryan entitlement?

Just follow the money…

articles etc (10/2021)

the conversation    2020  Dune – a prophetic tale about the environmental destruction wrought by the colonisation of Africa   by     –   Dune trailer here

Dune offers a useful allegorical narrative of the “scramble for Africa”, which saw European empires carve up the continent into colonised powers based purely in the pursuit of trade advantages. …  As Villeneuve himself has pointed out, the themes of his version of Dune speak to how fragile a planet’s ecosystem can be. It also highlights how we must change our dependence on extracting resources to start a planetary healing process.  As climate catastrophe continues to unfold around the world, many commentators (myself included) point to the extractive nature of fossil fuel companies, deforestation practices and ocean-polluting industries as the prime culprits. These practices have a legacy in the colonial plunder of Africa, with several chartered companies set up to marshal the global trade of the resources gained from colonial invasions.

For example, Cecil Rhodes, who is known widely for the decolonisation campaign #RhodesMustFall, made his fortune mining diamonds in South Africa. This industry produces a lot of local pollution and is also highly energy intensive.   Many modern-day mining and oil companies have their roots in the colonial invasion of Africa, with damaging environmental costs both locally in African countries, but also globally as they belch carbon into the air….”…   

thetime.co.uk  17/10/2021  David Harewood meets the Earl of Harewood: ‘My ancestors were your family’s slaves’ – When the Homeland actor David Harewood confronted the Earl of Harewood about his family’s brutal past, both men went on a journey of discovery

theguardian.com  12/10/2021 cecil-rhodes-was-no-benevolent-reformer –  Your report (11 October) on the Cecil Rhodes statue at Oriel College quotes the historian Prof David Abulafia in defence of Rhodes: “He believed he was bringing benefits to Africa”, and before condemning him, “one has to understand what his intentions were”. Rhodes’s clearest statement of intent, his “Confession of Faith” written in 1877, makes it clear that his African expansionism was for the benefit of the English, rather than anyone else, and since “Africa is still lying ready for us, it is our duty to take it”.
Kevin Shillington  Author, History of Africa

theguardian.com/  11/10/2021  Oxford college installs plaque calling Cecil Rhodes a ‘committed colonialist’  – Explanatory panel next to statue also says mining magnate exploited the ‘peoples of southern Africa’

Cecil Rhodes plaque
    Devil Incarnate Induces Telegraphic Apoplexy

telegraph.co.uk/  10/10/2021  Oriel College angers academics with plaque depicting Cecil Rhodes as the ‘devil incarnate’  – Complaints that a ‘balanced and measured’ portrayal has not been offered with new plaque said to ‘distort’ his legacy  By  Camilla Turner

theguardian.com/  29/09/2021  We argue over statues, yet history shows they’re really all about power – Today it’s ‘culture wars’ – but from Caesar to Colston, public art has long been reviled and reinterpreted – by Mary Beard

“Two thousand years ago the ancient Romans had some imaginative solutions to the problem of what to do with statues of rulers they had come to deplore. Some they gleefully toppled and threw into the nearest river, Edward Colston-style. But others they carefully reworked. It didn’t take much to get out a chisel and refashion the face of the old tyrant into the face of the new beloved leader. If cash was very tight, you might just put a new name on to an old statue, because hundreds of miles away hardly anyone knew what these guys really looked like. As Alex von Tunzelmann deftly captures in her recent book, Fallen Idols, statues are always works in progress: toppled, moved, reworked, reerected and reinterpreted. There has never been a time when they were not contested.”…

theguardian.com  7/2021  Statues are lies, selfies in bronze – and you can’t bring history to life with a dead art  – Why are we obsessed with putting up statues of new heroes to replace old villains like Edward Colston? Reducing history to celebrity culture won’t help anyone understand the full scale and horror of slavery  – by Jonathan Jones

The statue died as an art form 103 years ago, when Marcel Duchamp submitted a porcelain urinal to a New York art exhibition. So why, in the 21st century, are we obsessing about putting up statues of new heroes to replace the old villains? All this political radicalism is being betrayed by artistic conservatism.  The moment slave trader Edward Colston’s statue was pulled down in Bristol was a brilliantly apposite piece of performance art: a dadaist act of creativity through destruction that belongs alongside Banksy’s auto-shredding picture as a spectacle of great British cultural dissidence. But it has been followed by a sterile conversation about who does and doesn’t “deserve” a statue that adds nothing whatsoever to anyone’s understanding of slavery, the British empire, racism or any other subject. This is because statues are dumb. …”…

theguardian.com/ 19/9/2021 The kaiser and the paperweight: how Cecil Rhodes helped inspire the first world war – The German monarch’s imperial ambitions were fuelled by the British colonialist – as the story behind a recently discovered relic reveals

bbc.co.uk/news   10/9/2021 ‘I’ll be at front of queue to change my slave name‘ By Anna Holligan

Descendants of African slaves have told the BBC they will change their surnames, after a Dutch city decided to make the procedure free of charge. …

…”Between 1596 and 1829 the Dutch shipped more than half a million Africans across the Atlantic Ocean to work on plantations. They were treated as objects and possessions and their names were erased, part of what Linda Nooitmeer describes as the “dehumanising” process.  “Everything is stripped. You were part of the cargo, like cattle. It’s not only the name, but rituals, language, your identity, all evidence that you were African was taken away.”  The Netherlands was one of the last countries to abolish slavery in 1863, 30 years after British abolition. Even then slaves in Suriname, on the north-east coast of South America, had to wait 10 years to be fully free. Slaves were also shipped to Brazil, as well as Haiti, Curaçao and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Anyone enslaved in Suriname had to be on a slave register, so it is known that some 80,000 people lived in slavery there in the 30 years before abolition.” ….

thetimes.co.uk   1/8/2021  LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – My enslaved ancestors need recognition, not guilt – thanks for a great article on slavery in family histories

(“My ancestor was a slave trader: the sleuths tackling their dark pasts”,

“My own great-great-grandparents were slaves in Jamaica. The chains attached to the grindstone are still in my family’s back yard in Mike Town.  We have the files and know how much money the slavers received as compensation for freeing us. As for us, we got nothing but hate. We are not bitter or vengeful. We would just like the history shared. There is no point feeling guilty or paranoid about what others did years ago. They were of their time and they believed that we were sub-human (apparently some still do). But I congratulate Richard Atkinson for having …”…

theguardian.com  1/6/2021  Why every single statue should come down – Statues of historical figures are lazy, ugly and distort history. From Cecil Rhodes to Rosa Parks, let’s get rid of them all   by Gary Younge

…”For me the issue starts with the very purpose of a statue. They are among the most fundamentally conservative – with a small c – expressions of public art possible. They are erected with eternity in mind – a fixed point on the landscape. Never to be moved, removed, adapted or engaged with beyond popular reverence. Whatever values they represent are the preserve of the establishment. To put up a statue you must own the land on which it stands and have the authority and means to do so. As such they represent the value system of the establishment at any given time that is then projected into the forever.

That is unsustainable. It is also arrogant. Societies evolve; norms change; attitudes progress. Take the mining magnate, imperialist and unabashed white supremacist Cecil Rhodes. He donated significant amounts of money with the express desire that he be remembered for 4,000 years. We’re only 120 years in, but his wish may well be granted. The trouble is that his intention was that he would be remembered fondly. And you can’t buy that kind of love, no matter how much bronze you lather it in. So in both South Africa and Britain we have been saddled with these monuments to Rhodes.

The trouble is that they are not his only legacy. The systems of racial subjugation in southern Africa, of which he was a principal architect, are still with us. The income and wealth disparities in that part of the world did not come about by bad luck or hard work. They were created by design. Rhodes’ design. This is the man who said: “The native is to be treated as a child and denied franchise. We must adopt a system of despotism, such as works in India, in our relations with the barbarism of South Africa.” So we should not be surprised if the descendants of those so-called natives, the majority in their own land, do not remember him fondly….”…

slaveryimages.org A Visual Record of the African Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Early African Diaspora 

time.com/ Facing America’s History of Racism Requires Facing the Origins of ‘Race’ as a Concept BY ANDREW CURRAN

The logic behind the history of race initially seems deceivingly clear: to justify the forced deportation of 400,000 Black Africans to North America (and another eleven million to other parts of the Americas between 1525 and 1866), Europeans and their American heirs found it necessary to debase and revile their captives. Yet today’s racism is more than a malignant byproduct of the 19th-century American plantation system; it also grew out of an elaborate and supposedly “scientific” European conception of the human species that began during the Enlightenment.

By the early decades of the 18th century, the Continent’s savants and natural philosophers no longer automatically looked to the Bible to explain the story of the human species. Intent on finding physical explanations for natural phenomena, naturalists employed more “empirical” methods to solve one of the biggest “anthropological” questions of the day: why did people from Africa, millions of whom were already toiling in European plantations, look different from white Europeans?

By the 1740s, one could find a dozen or more purportedly scientific explanations. Some claimed that blackness came from vapors emanating from the skin; others claimed that black skin was passed on from generation to generation via the power of the maternal imagination or from darkened sperm; still others asserted that the heat or the air of the Torrid Zone darkened the humors and stained the skin.

washingtonpost.com A brief history of the enduring phony science that perpetuates white supremacy By Michael E. Ruane

‘The haunted houses’: Legacy of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion lingers, but reminders are disappearingearing

Freedom and slavery, the ‘central paradox of American history’

Anthony and Mary Johnson were pioneers on the Eastern Shore whose surprising story tells much about race in Virginia history

vox.com 5 things people still get wrong about slavery – We asked historians to debunk slavery’s greatest myths. By Karen Turner and Jessica Machado

Slavery’s legacy is white supremacy. The ideology, which rationalized bondage for 250 years, has justified the discriminatory treatment of African Americans for the 150 years since the war ended. The belief that black people are less than white people has made segregated schools acceptable, mass incarceration possible, and police violence permissible.

Blood Legacy: Reckoning with a Family’s Story of Slavery by Alex Renton

The Interest: How the British Establishment Resisted the Abolition of Slavery Hardcover –  by Michael Taylor

‘A critical piece of history and a devastating exposé’ Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire

For two hundred years, the abolition of slavery in Britain has been a cause for self-congratulation – but no longer.

In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, but for the next quarter of a century, despite heroic and bloody rebellions, more than 700,000 people in the British colonies remained enslaved. And when a renewed abolitionist campaign was mounted, making slave ownership the defining political and moral issue of the day, emancipation was fiercely resisted by the powerful ‘West India Interest’. Supported by nearly every leading figure of the British establishment – including Canning, Peel and Gladstone, The Times and Spectator – the Interest ensured that slavery survived until 1833 and that when abolition came at last, compensation worth billions in today’s money was given not to the enslaved but to the slaveholders, entrenching the power of their families to shape modern Britain to this day.

Drawing on major new research, this long-overdue and ground-breaking history provides a gripping narrative account of the tumultuous and often violent battle that divided and scarred the nation during these years of upheaval. The Interest reveals the lengths to which British leaders went to defend the indefensible in the name of profit, showing that the ultimate triumph of abolition came at a bitter cost and was one of the darkest and most dramatic episodes in British history.


‘Scintillating … gripping … compulsively readable’ Guardian

‘Fascinating … riveting and first-rate’ The Times
‘A thoroughly researched and potent historical account’ David Lammy MP

aeon.co/ Vast early America There is no American history without the histories of Indigenous and enslaved peoples. And this past has consequences today by Karin Wulf read here

amherst.edu “White Cannibalism in the Slave Trade: The Curious Case of the Schooner ‘Arrogante’ in 1837” 

Read “D Graeber’s “Debt – the first 5000 years” on how alleged symptom of African barbarity, ie “black cannibalism”, was in reality result of “hell on earth” inferno created by slave trade head hunting etc

telegraph.co.uk  18/7/2021  Oxford dons should stop ‘throwing tantrums’ over statues, says Oriel’s only African tutor 
Dr Marie Kawthar Daouda says she is ‘perplexed’ by department’s condemnation of decision to keep Cecil Rhodes statue in place

economist.com   5/2021 Twelve months of protests – A year ago, George Floyd was murdered by a police officer. How has his death changed America?   – economist.com/race-in-america


oxfordmail.co.uk/ Cecil Rhodes statue should wear ‘slave collar’, local artist says By Sophie Perry

see also


One thought on “Why not Dress Rhodes in the Slave Collar of Racism?

  1. How I learnt about slavery 07/2021 – comment sent by JVMP-

    At the age of 12, my very first employment with U.S. State Department was at Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower’s Farm at Gettysburg (this sensitive information has yet to be de-classified, if ever). As a keen local resident (I was born in Gettysburg on the site of America’s bloodiest battlefield), I was hired to mow the extensive lawns of the Farm during 5 successive summers. Mamie often made lemonade for me!

    It was during this informative time of my life when I learned the definition of slavery. As I recall, when Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg for his famous speech, he said that it was OK for former slaves to continue to work on the land of their former masters provided that “no more than 50% of the fruit of their labour was kept by the landowner.” In other words, you are still a slave if your boss keeps more than 50% of the profit from your labour.

    So, there was an ECONOMICS OF SLAVERY (see the Beard-Hacker Thesis). At the end of the Civil War, Abe Lincoln had to make peace, compensate the Southern former slave owners (calculated by a formula to be $400 per slave) and somehow get the economy going again. The U.S. Government paid for the freedom of former slaves. Since ALL of the cotton mills were located in the North and all of the cotton fields were located in the South, most former slaves then had the paid option of either picking cotton or manufacturing cotton products- a “win-win solution” for all concerned. NOTE: This is an arrangement very similar to modern tenant-landlord contracts where, interestingly, most labourers are actually engaged in a legal modern slave economy whereby the landowner keeps MORE THAN 50% of the profit of a tenant’s labour.



    JVMP 07/2021


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