Sleeping Dogs Lie

Cecil John Rhodes, UCT.

Cecil John Rhodes, UCT.

Recently, early 2015, there has been some objection to the statue of Cecil John Rhodes that stands on the upper campus of the University of Cape Town. Colonialists and Imperialists are no longer seen as being a positive in South African history. Rhodes’ statue was boarded up after a vote by the university’s senate to remove it, pending a permanent decision. Students started protesting against the statue in March while a couple smeared it with poo. (Some politicians I could name could do with the same treatment.)

I wonder what those students receiving Rhodes Scholarships feel about Rhodes.

As I understand it, he meant well, but did not always do well. As for statues, I think they all suck. Every last one of them. Sculpture? That’s something else entirely. Give me a beautiful, or thought-provoking, sculpture any old time. Preferably with a fountain, if there’s any water to spare.

Keith Spackman, friend and engineer, whose mum lived in Bulawayo in the ’90s, invited Sheila and I to go and visit her with him for our Company’s long weekend at the end of October, 1992.

After spending the first night at Keith’s sister, Tish, and her husband’s place in Francistown, we went through the border near Plumtree, together with our dogs, and arrived in the little city of Bulawayo before lunch. Keith took us exploring, shopping and visiting his friends before we settled in for the night at his mum’s home at 12 Essex Rd, Hillside.

There was some excitement the next morning when my staffy, Mack, laid tooth to Keith’s mum’s yorky. After Beano had kept attacking him, Mack had briefly put his good manners aside. The damage was slight, and everyone agreed that Beano had deserved what he got.

PJE, Mrs Spackman * Keith Spackman

PJE, Mrs Spackman * Keith Spackman

We prowled Bulawayo Museum, finding it most fascinating, before visiting Keith’s friend and fellow pilot, a lawyer, Tim Cherry and his girlfriend, a Matabele girl, Tandy. I found them both pleasant and very interesting. Supper was dining out at a Safari Restaurant, where Sheila and I had delicious kudu steaks.

Bulawayo reeks of Rhodes, so inevitably, on the Sunday we took a picnic to Matopos National Park in the rugged, bouldery hills south of the city. We saw rock paintings and climbed up to where C.J. is buried.

Rhodes grave

Rhodes grave

Twenty three years later, there is even talk of exhuming Rhodes’ bones and sending them back to Britain. All that expense; what a waste. Politicians lie, so why shouldn’t sleeping dogs? Good, bad or indifferent, they’re history…Zim Matopos Rhodes1

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 4 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom' and 'Medicinal Purposed Only', all from Southern Africa.
This entry was posted in Exploring Africa, Shaping a writer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Sleeping Dogs Lie

  1. Nic says:

    Rhodes is no sleeping dog! Are we biting the hand that fed us???

  2. Mark Warken says:

    Hi Peter,
    Good on you for writing about this. I salute the pioneers of old. They had the vision, guts and courage to forge ahead and go into uncharted territory and develop it. These new pricks are parasitic, develop nothing and criticize us for saluting the old times. It’s history yes, but those men had character. Their deeds have stood the test of time.
    You are an old salt of sorts! Your adventures testify to that. Salute. No statue though!

  3. Louise Morgan says:

    Lovely picture of my gran, Mrs Spackman

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