Cecil Rhodes was “a committed British colonialist” who earned his fortune “through exploitation of minerals, land, and peoples of southern Africa,” according to a new plaque installed beside a statue of the mining magnate and politician on the campus of Oxford University’s Oriel College.
The statue of Rhodes, a former prime minister of the Cape Colony who attended Oriel and left the college 100,000 pounds in his will, has been the target of a growing protest movement that started in South Africa called Rhodes Must Fall.
Oriel’s governing body voted to remove the statue in 2020, and a commission established to investigate the matter supported the vote. But in May the college said it would not dismantle the statue because of the “regulatory and financial challenges” of extracting it from a historically protected building, prompting 150 Oxford dons to go on strike, the BBC reported. The college vowed instead to focus its efforts on “contextualisation,” which prompted the installation of the plaque asserting that some of Rhodes’s actions “led to great loss of life and attracted criticism in his day and ever since.”