Online edition of Shunpiking

Africa for the Africans: Historical Background


1885: Cecil Rhodes – father of the British Empire – on the importance of imperialism

"I was in the East End of London [a working-class quarter] yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread! bread!’ and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism.... My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists." – Cecil Rhodes, 1885 [1]

It is said that Rhodes was a man who never deviated from the "three principles ... peace, justice and liberty." The official British position may be gauged from the remarks of Lord Soames, the last governor of Southern Rhodesia, made in speeches during the independence celebrations of the Republic of Zimbabwe in 1980. Announcing the end of the colonial status of the country, Lord Soames proclaimed his praise for Rhodes. He credited Rhodes with everything the British regarded as their achievements of their politics in Rhodesia: the development, "over the past ninety years," of "the forces of economic progress, science and the state, on the one hand, and education and the English language on the other..." [2].

It is clear that from the time of Rhodes to the independence of the African countries to the present context of the G8 Action Plan for Africa, the same Eurocentric values of the imperialists are being used to justify crimes against the African peoples and the plunder of their land.

1. Quoted by V.I. Lenin, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism," Lenin: Collected Works, Volume 22. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1974, pp. 256-257.

2. Lord Soames, "From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe," International Affairs, Vol. 56, Summer 1980, No. 3, p. 417.

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