Redress Rhodes is a Rhodes Scholars group. Whilst the community is in dialogue with the Rhodes Trust, please note opinions are those of the Scholars involved, and not necessarily those of the Rhodes Trust.
As a group of Scholars, our vision is to partner with the Rhodes Trust to attain a more critical, honest, and inclusive reflection of the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes and a clearer understanding of how it relates to the image, mission, and purpose of the Scholarships. We feel that an appreciation of this legacy is an essential element of what it means to be a Rhodes Scholar, and that more awareness regarding this legacy would both benefit Scholars and the reception of the Scholarship in a global context. Our mission is to make reparative justice a more central theme for Rhodes Scholars, through a sustained presence within the Oxford-based and global Rhodes Scholar community.
We applaud the continuing efforts of the Warden and Trustees to bring about positive change for the Trust, and appreciate their willingness to engage with Scholars about these changes. Notable among these are the collaborative manner in which the toast for the 2015 Going Down dinner was drafted after extensive engagement with attendees of the dinner and Redress Rhodes representatives, as well as acknowledgement of the fact that certain Scholars might want to divert their Going Down gifts towards sustaining and expanding the Scholarships in African constituencies.
Many Scholars rarely – if ever – come to appreciate the legacy of Cecil John Rhodes. In order to create more awareness and solidarity, we hope to ensure the representation of all aspects of Rhodes’ legacy is more overt in the Rhodes Scholarship community, and to ensure that applicants and selectors think more critically about how they reconcile the Scholarship with ‘fighting the world’s fight’. This conversation is a timely one given the expansion and debate currently taking place in the second century of the Scholarships.
This is a long-term project, and the ‘Redress Rhodes’ group will be structured along the lines of BARS and RSSAF, with both student-led groups and a sustained presence in the international Scholar community.
Our four main short-term priorities, aside from consolidating our organisational presence, include: (i) formulating permanent workable alternatives to toasting ‘the Founder’ in his personal capacity; (ii) increasing the involvement of UK-based Mandela Rhodes Scholars in the activities of the Trust; (iii) partnering with the Trust to formulate fundraising strategies that will prioritise expansion to under-represented constituencies in former African/Global South colonies; (iv) creating permanent avenues for directing Scholar Donations to constituencies or Scholar groups of their choice.
Over the medium - and long-term, we hope to achieve the following: (i) redirecting the South African schools’ Scholarships to the Southern-African-at-large pool; (ii) ensuring that expansion includes a deliberate policy of increasing Scholarships in underrepresented African/Global South constituencies as well as re-introducing Scholarships from these constituencies that are no longer represented; (iii) ensuring critical conversations occur in individual constituencies culminating in a global Scholar conference; and (iv) dedication of space at Rhodes House for the critical engagement with Cecil Rhodes' legacy, as well as imperial history more broadly, in relation to the Scholarship and the fortune it was built upon.
Other initiatives for collaboration
As mentioned above, we are grateful that the Trust is already making efforts to bring about a series of reforms within the community. We hope to contribute to this process by working together with the Trust, and make ongoing representations on the following:
(i) contextualising the symbolism of Rhodes and other figures at Rhodes House; (ii) making collective fundraising efforts with the Trust in bringing about its vision of increasing Scholarships in African countries and other former colonies; diversifying the team of Trustees and making the Trust more inclusive of younger voices/alumni; (iii) formulating strategies for the Trust to ensure that Scholars are more aware of/reflective on Rhodes’ legacy and can easily access information on his contested aspects.
Recently Redress Rhodes also set up a petition which focused on six points connected to racism and hate speech. The petition can be read in full here, and the list of Scholars who signed it can be read here.
If you are interested in being part of this community, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.