Society of the Spectacle

The controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes was removed from its prominent place at the University of Cape Town earlier today. I was there covering the story for AFP.
Rhodes statue behind a fence
The event was celebratory if not a little theatrical. The statue had already been removed earlier in the day as a rehearsal. It was due to be moved at 17h00; the construction workers seemed ready, as were the assembled crowds of students, lecturers and journalists. But everyone was made wait more than 30 minutes until the key group of protesting students marched up to witness the removal. It added to the sense that this was a public spectacle.
Decolonise Africa sign
As crowds of students cheered, “Down Rhodes down” the statue was lifted of its plinth and taken away on a flat bed lorry. The crowd of mostly students were cheering and toyi-toying, singing songs about Azania.
The student protests have triggered a public debate and protest about the place for these legacy statues – early this morning the Louis Botha statue in front of the South African parliament was defaced with paint.
Rhodes statue lifted off plinth
As I left though, I wondered how soon the students other demands about transformation would be met. The stuff that can’t be disappeared with a flat bed lorry.
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