Chumani Maxwele ignites the #RhodesMustFall Movement at UCT

Chumani Maxwele throws human excrement at a statue of Cecil John Rhodes Image source

Monday, 9 March 2015

On 9 March 2015, Chumani Maxwele threw human excrements at a statue of Cecil John Rhodes that was situated on the campus of the University of Cape Town, on Rugby Road. This action became a catalyst for heightening student activism and movements throughout universities in the country, stimulating political discourse within South Africa as well as around the world.

 Maxwele’s protest, staged as a political performance, was in response to the lack of attention given to the symbols on campus that are physical reminders of White supremacy and Black subjugation and oppression that is rooted in South Africa. By taking human excrement from Khayelitsha, his action sought to make a connection with the lack of human dignity given to Black people living in townships. Dressed in running shoes and tights, a pink construction hat and carrying a whistle, a drum and a placard reading “Exhibit White @ Arrogance U.C.T.”, Maxwele’s performance was a radical protest against UCT’s purported institutional racism and an appraisal of the lack of transformation on campus.

 By midday Maxwele was joined by other students, resulting in the birth of #RhodesMustFall.

 

 

References:
• Maxwele, Chumani. “The not so potty idea that spawned a movement”, Sunday Times (https://www.pressreader.com/), 6, March, 2016.
• “UCT: Rhodes Must Fall”, Facebook. Accessed 4 February 2017, https://www.facebook.com/RhodesMustFall/.

Last updated : 08-Jun-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 05-May-2017