From Minister's Son To Powerful Imperialist


Since yesterday's post involved Cecil Rhodes - as in the phrase Oxford Rhodes Scholar - I thought people should know more about this interesting Englishman.

Cecil Rhodes is controversial because of his role in the colonisation of southern AfricaDan 88!

The 19th century mining magnate Cecil Rhodes was a student at Oxford and a member of Oriel College in the 1870s. 

Born in 1853, the vicar's son became one of the era' most famous imperialists, with Rhodesia - now Zimbabwe and Zambia - named after him. 

Rhodes had gone to work on a cotton farm in South Africa at 17, and moved into the diamond industry before belatedly obtaining a degree at Oxford, where students were intrigued by his colourful manner and monologues on the Empire.

By the age of 30, he had formed the De Beers Mining Company, which came to own 90 per cent of the world’s diamond production and remains a major player to this day. 

In 1881, Rhodes was elected to the parliament of the Cape Colony, in present-day South Africa and Namibia. One of his major aims was to open up the northern territories of what is now Zimbabwe, for mineral wealth, communications, and, eventually, white settlement.

In 1889, he obtained a royal charter to start mining in what is now Botswana. From there, his pioneers began their hazardous march north, where they named the new territories Rhodesia in his honour.

But it was after he became prime minister of the Cape Colony that he introduced policies credited with laying the foundations for apartheid. 

In 1892 he restricted the African vote to those with wealth and qualifications, and in 1894 he assigned an area for exclusively African development – effectively a native reserve.

Rhodes described it as ‘a Bill for Africa’. In reality, it served to enforce segregation of native Africans.

His last years were soured by an unfortunate relationship with a Polish aristocratic adventuress, Princess Caroline Radziwill, who sought to manipulate Rhodes to promote her ideas of the British Empire.

He never married – pleading ‘I have too much work on my hands’ – and died of heart disease in 1902. 

The diamond miner left vast sums of money to the university, and a scholarship programme in his name has so far been awarded to more than 8,000 overseas students.

But Oriel college has distanced itself from his views, saying in a statement: 'Rhodes was also a 19th-century colonialist whose values and world view stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the Scholarship programme today, and to the values of a modern university.' 

Source:  The Daily Mail