Letters to the editor: April 2 to 9 2015

Set in stone: A reader says the 'cacophony of voices advocating the Christian faith' drowns out African voices and asks how many statues have been erected in South Africa to honour British evangelists. (Reuters)

Set in stone: A reader says the 'cacophony of voices advocating the Christian faith' drowns out African voices and asks how many statues have been erected in South Africa to honour British evangelists. (Reuters)

Rhodes stifles our future

  The campaign for the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes must be applauded (Razing symbols isn’t real change). No symbol is class-neutral. Rhodes’s statue was erected to remind the people of South Africa that they owe their allegiance to Rhodes and other colonialists.
Though its fall may not necessarily lead to immediate policy changes at the University of Cape Town, its absence would allow South Africans to build their country freely without feeling that every change must follow Rhodes’ colonialist thinking.

But the fall of Rhodes and other such symbols will not be easy. The 1994 democratic breakthrough, the product of a long, painful struggle and the negotiations between the liberation movement and the apartheid regime, meant that such symbols could not be removed without following “proper” channels.

  The removal of such symbols must be deliberately linked with the long-term struggle against capitalism in general. Such removals must take a form in which neither negotiation nor consultation is entertained. It will entail mass mobilisation so that, as with the removal of all tsarist symbols in Russia after the 1917 revolution, South Africans can breathe new life into the future. – Thabo Thwala, Bothaville

• Why are these “educated” students fighting to remove colonial statues? From sewer systems to electricity pylons, from reservoirs and dams to huge shopping malls, computers and the cars the students drive – all were created by whites. Should we remove those things too?

It’s like President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe: he’s still chasing away white people, while his own people run away to other countries looking for a better life because it can’t be found under his government.

  Why don’t these students spend their time and energy fighting the government for more universities to be built? In almost 21 years the government has not built one university, just empty stadiums. Stop fighting about what was in the past and start fighting for what is needed today. – Zahir Danbar, Phoenix

• The moves by university students to have the statues of Rhodes and King George V removed from the universities of Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal are to be praised. The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.

Do we really want our children to grow up in a country where the statues of men whose values were radically different from those espoused in our Constitution are still standing? This is an insult to those who died for our freedom.

  We cannot accept the racial superiority of any group. Those who are offended by the students’ desire to remove the statue suffer from an identity crisis and should consider whether they are Europeans or South Africans. – Segran Padayachee, Umgeni Park

• The rejection of British influence must be holistic. As I reflect on the brouhaha about Rhodes, I have the following questions:

  • Have we checked all the British influences that have permeated our society over the years?
  • What effect will the removal of an old statue have on these influences, or will it only satisfy the egos of a few radicals?
  • As we highlight imperialism and colonialism, have we forgotten about Christianity, which uprooted our communities from their original forms of worship?
  • Are we going to deal piecemeal with British influences?
  • Are we going back to the belief that the dead can still influence the living?
  • How many statues has the Christian world erected on their church grounds, in honour of British evangelists in this country?

The British influence has so permeated our society that it will be difficult to rid ourselves of it. At independence, many African states adopted the British system of governance, despite being victims of the same system. Not a single country attempted to introduce a uniquely African model for governing Africans – as if we did not govern ourselves before colonialism! Although such a system would be stiffly resisted by the West, we need to read about those who tried, such as Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba.

  Even today, we are struggling to be heard because of the cacophony of voices advocating the Christian faith. – Mxolisi Toyitoyi Dimbaza, King William’s Town

Redistributed land in Zim has not become more productive

    I am bewildered by the claim made by Dr Stephen Greenberg in Why size matters for farmers. He writes: “There are many problems with Zimbabwe’s land redistribution process, but there is evidence that land became more productive when it was spilt into smaller units and people used it for growing crops for home use and local markets.

“In these cases, at least, the change in structure of landholdings did not threaten national food security and it improved local food security.” It is clear that Greenberg is not on the ground in Zimbabwe, seeing the hunger and the amounts of food aid that are delivered to the people each year by the international community.

There is no evidence whatsoever that the land has become more productive. In fact, all the evidence points to the contrary. Zimbabwe used to be a net exporter of food; now it is one of the most food-insecure countries in the world.

  I would be very surprised if Greenberg has spent any time in Zimbabwe looking at the evidence objectively. If he were to do so, I think he would find that he has swallowed Zanu-PF propaganda hook, line and sinker. – Ben Freeth, Zimbabwe

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