South African student, Ntokozo Qwabe, says that the University of Oxford in England is racist because of its lack of black professors and current curriculum.
Qwabe is the co-founder of Rhodes Must Fall In Oxford – “an organisation determined to decolonise the space, the curriculum, and the institutional memory at, and to fight inter-sectional oppression within, Oxford”.
The campaign was born out of the Rhodes Must Fall – #RhodesMustFall – protest movement originally directed against a statue at the University of Cape Town (UCT) commemorating Cecil Rhodes that began in March 2015.
In April 2015, following a UCT Council vote, the statue was removed.
Qwabe, a former law student at KwaZulu-Natal, received the Rhodes Scholarship to further his studies at England’s Oxford University, in 2013.
In an interview with SABC, Qwabe said that the struggle goes beyond a statue, pointing to a ‘structural violence’ within the world’s most recognised tertiary institution through its curriculum, and the lack of black professors.
“Those things are not just exceptions, they go to the very heart of how Oxford is configured, and how Oxford, as a space is, to be quite frank, racist. That blatant, violent, assault and racism is unacceptable at a university that purports to be inclusive,” he said.
Oriel College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford, has put up a sign at the entrance of the building in question saying that it does not in any way condone or glorify the view or actions of Cecil Rhodes.
The sign notes that the building was completed in 1911, and was funded by a bequest from Cecil Rhodes. The statue was erected at the time of construction an is part of a Grade 1 listed building.
Oriel College said that it will over the next six months seek the views from the alumni, heritage bodies, Oxford City Council, and the public on the future of the Cecil Rhodes statue.