OxHRHub Director Sandy Fredman and other Oxford fellows publish letter on Mandela and Rhodes Must Fall

admin - 17th June 2020


The Telegraph today published the following letter co-signed by OxHRHub Director and Oxford colleagues:

Letters to the Editor, 17 June 2020

SIR – Our university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, makes two unwarranted claims (“Nelson Mandela would have opposed Rhodes Must Fall campaign”, report, June 12).

First, she draws on Mandela’s words, seven years after his death, to defend colonial-era statues. This would be inappropriate ventriloquising in any context. It is especially so now, when universities need to listen to, not presume to speak for, black students and people of colour.

Secondly, she claims that the campaign amounts to “hiding our history”. The opposite is true. What is being demanded is a full and frank accounting for Britain’s history, in place of the selective commemoration of “great men” whose wealth was made through white supremacy.

Your report refers to a speech made by President Mandela in 2003. Earlier that year, he spoke of Cecil Rhodes and others who “enriched themselves at the expense and exclusion of others”.

He also spoke of the South African constitution’s promise to “recognise the injustices of our past” and to build a country that “belongs to all who live in it”. Rhodes Must Fall and Black Lives Matter demand nothing else for Britain. We support those demands.

James McDougall
Professor of Modern and Contemporary History

Elleke Boehmer
Professor of World Literature in English

Robert Gilde
Professor of Modern History

Sandra Fredman
Professor of Law

Richard Reid
Professor of African History

Stephen Tuck
Professor of Modern History

Miles Tendi
Associate Professor in African Politics

Faisal Devji
Professor of Indian History

Ankhi Mukherjee
Professor of English and World Literatures

Lloyd Pratt
Professor of American Literature

Patricia Daley
Professor of the Human Geography of Africa

Miles Larmer
Professor of African History

Faridah Zaman
Associate Professor of the History of Britain and the World

Simukai Chigudu
Associate Professor of African Politics

University of Oxford

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