On 9 March 2015, Chumani Maxwele, a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, threw a bucket of human excrement at the statue of Cecil Rhodes that since 1934 was on UCT’s campus. It was the beginning of #RhodesMustFall, a movement that through the defacing or toppling of statues in South Africa and elsewhere sparked a contestation of the symbols of European colonialism and the persistence of racism and inequality in Africa. The toppling of colonial monuments in Africa was not, however, a new phenomenon. Since the early 1960s and the independence struggles, colonial monuments were destructed in the colonies. Statues of King Leopold II – that have been defaced and contested in Belgium after the spread of Black Lives Matter in Europe in 2020 – were toppled in the Belgian Congo already in 1960. As were statues of Queen Victoria in Kenya or French colonial monuments in Algeria. In 1975, soon after the end of a long and dramatic struggle for independence from Portugal, all colonial statues were removed from the capital of the country, Lourenço Marques, that was renamed Maputo. Thus, removing colonial statues from African landscapes or memoryscapes was a common practice in the 1960s, especially in those countries that became independent after long – often violent – struggles for independence, such as Kenya, Algeria and Mozambique. Through the analysis of some selected case-studies, this paper reconstructs the destruction of monuments in Africa since the 1960s and investigates its broader implications, also in relation to those areas of the continent in which the remnants of a traumatic colonial past have been neither removed, nor contested.

The Toppling of Colonial Statues in Africa from the Independence Struggle to the Rhodes Must Fall Movement

Pallaver K.
2021

Abstract

On 9 March 2015, Chumani Maxwele, a student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, threw a bucket of human excrement at the statue of Cecil Rhodes that since 1934 was on UCT’s campus. It was the beginning of #RhodesMustFall, a movement that through the defacing or toppling of statues in South Africa and elsewhere sparked a contestation of the symbols of European colonialism and the persistence of racism and inequality in Africa. The toppling of colonial monuments in Africa was not, however, a new phenomenon. Since the early 1960s and the independence struggles, colonial monuments were destructed in the colonies. Statues of King Leopold II – that have been defaced and contested in Belgium after the spread of Black Lives Matter in Europe in 2020 – were toppled in the Belgian Congo already in 1960. As were statues of Queen Victoria in Kenya or French colonial monuments in Algeria. In 1975, soon after the end of a long and dramatic struggle for independence from Portugal, all colonial statues were removed from the capital of the country, Lourenço Marques, that was renamed Maputo. Thus, removing colonial statues from African landscapes or memoryscapes was a common practice in the 1960s, especially in those countries that became independent after long – often violent – struggles for independence, such as Kenya, Algeria and Mozambique. Through the analysis of some selected case-studies, this paper reconstructs the destruction of monuments in Africa since the 1960s and investigates its broader implications, also in relation to those areas of the continent in which the remnants of a traumatic colonial past have been neither removed, nor contested.
Pallaver K.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/840370
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