Rhodes Must Fall activist accepts £40,000-a-year scholarship – in Rhodes’ name

The scholarship is offered to ‘young people of enormous ability’

Josuha Nott, a previous Rhodes Must Fall campaigner has accepted the £40,000 Rhodes Scholarship to study Law at the University of Oxford.

Despite being a leading publicist in the campaign to have the Cecil Rhodes statue removed from the University of Cape Town campus, Nott will attend the University of Oxford under a scholarship in the coloniser’s name.

Nott has said of the controversy “I use the Rhodes scholarship to defeat the very ideals of what it originally stood for. When the Rhodes Must Fall campaign began it was less about the statue and more about student transformation at Cape Town University… It has become very un-intelligent.”

Following on from Ntokozo Qwabe who won the scholarship despite having also campaigned to have the “racist” statue of the former 19th Century colonialist, Cecil Rhodes, removed from Oriel College, this is the second year the scholarship has gone to an Anti-Rhodes activist.

Images of Nott campaigning in Cape Town show him with gaffer tape over his mouth with other students holding signs asking to be set free from white oppression. The campaign was successful at UCT, with the statue being removed amid violent protest.

Nott campaigning in Cape Town

Nott has previously compared the statue of Rhodes outside Cape Town university to “putting a Swastika in Jerusalem.” But while he says he’s “against the ‘perverse’ statue of Rhodes outside Oxford’s Oriel College” he has no plans to join the Rhodes Must Fall movement there. Notts puts this down to the Cape Town statue being ‘more perverse to the public consciousness’ than the one at Oxford.

A spokesman from Rhodes Trust has defended their choice: “We pick young people of enormous ability without regard to any particular political affiliation … Mr Nott has been involved in a wide range of social change initiatives. He made this clear.”

Nott’s profile on the Rhodes Trust website doesn’t mention his role in the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and “the direct action against the reality of institutional racism” by the movement. It does state that he is “keenly interest in social justice and has pioneered a number of workers’ rights and student focused initiatives”.

Ntokozo Qwabe was another former Rhodes scholar at Oxford, who founded the movement here and campaigned vehemently against the statue. He has since left Oxford.