by Mia Arderne
On Shackville and Rhodes Must Fall
Rhodes Must Fall is a student and worker led movement protesting for the decolonization of the University of Cape Town. The movement achieved the removal a prominent statue of imperialist Cecil John Rhodes in April 2015 on UCT’s upper campus. Rhodes Must Fall is associated with a wider student led movement, Fees Must Fall, which protested against tuition fees hikes at universities throughout South Africa in October 2015. Both movements continue to fight against institutional racism and structural inequality in South Africa.
At UCT in February 2016, Rhodes Must Fall protesters erected a corrugated iron structure representing a shack on campus, symbolic of the lack of accommodation for black students at UCT. This protest, called Shackville, sought not only to address UCT’s housing shortage, but also to represent the discrimination in the way black UCT students are expected to live, which includes facing large-scale financial and academic exclusion and eviction. After the Shackville structure was destroyed by private security and police, students reacted by setting fire to a number of the university’s colonial artworks, including a wooden plaque of General Jan Smuts, as an act of decolonization demonstrating that paintings of colonial figures are treated better than disenfranchised black lives.
On the Cartoon
he The Imagined World of People who Condemn Radical Protest is a satirical depiction of South African middle class ignorance in thinking that true transformation can be realized without disruption. The cartoon shows an ironic liberal alternative to radical protest. It also speaks to the arrogance of middle class disgust at the radical Shackville protest at UCT, which was met with outcries of hooliganism from many who do not live in shacks and have never known the kind of struggle facing many of these students and workers.
Mia Arderne is a columnist and artist from Cape Town, South Africa. She has her Masters Degree in English Creative Writing, Travel Writing and Narrative Journalism from the University of Cape Town. Her columns have been published locally and internationally by the City Press, GQ South Africa, GQ Japan, Cape Town Lately and Matador Network. Her work explores various themes including subcultures, sexuality and marginalization.