28. What Rhodes said

Author: Adekeye Adebajo
Date: 16 May 2021
The Sunday Telegraph
Image Courtesy of: Debby Huddson via Unsplash.com

SIR – Nigel Biggar erroneously accuses me of making up three quotes in a 2006 review of a book on Cecil Rhodes by Paul Maylam (The Cult of Cecil Rhodes) that appeared in the Times Literary Supplement.

He says that the first quote, “I prefer land to n——”, was in a fictional 1897 novel by Olive Schreiner. But two renowned Rhodes biographers, Professor Maylam and Antony Thomas, have attributed this statement to Rhodes, as did a 1956 biographer, Felix Gross.

Professor Biggar claims that a second Rhodes quote, “The natives are children. They are just emerging from barbarism”, was “misleadingly torn from its proper context”. However, both Professor Maylam and the historian Stanlake Samkange confirmed these words as having been uttered by Rhodes in a racist July 1894 speech to the Cape parliament, which is available online.

Finally, Professor Biggar claims that the quote, “One should kill as many n—— as possible”, is “a mixture of distortion and fabrication”. But it is cited by Professor Maylam.

Perhaps Professor Biggar should stick to his own field of theology and not wade into tendentious history.

Professor Adekeye Adebajo is Director at the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation, University of Johannesburg, South Africa