Two South African student activists in the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campus movement now face criticisms from the public after being named as Rhodes scholars for the class of 2017.
They were among nine South Africans awarded the prestigious international scholarship for postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.
Joshua Nott and Mbalenhle Matandela, both graduates of the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, had been staunch supporters of a campaign that began in 2015 to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes from the UCT campus.
According to activists, Rhodes, a British businessman who later became a South African politician, was a symbol of racism and colonialism.
The statue became the centre of protests, and one month later, UCT ordered the statue removed.
From there, a wider movement to “decolonise” South Africa’s education spread across the country and to other universities, even those overseas.
However, after the winning scholars were announced, many feel that Nott and Matandela have changed their tune for the price of £40,000 – the bursary awarded to each recipient to study at Oxford University.