The President of Zimbabwe has called for the remains of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes to be exhumed and sent back to the UK.
Rhodes, who founded the southern African territory of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, died in 1902 aged 48 and requested that his burial site be at Matobo Hills, now the Matobo National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On 17th December, Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa, 79, told traditional leaders (chiefs, headmen and village heads) that the British colonialist’s remains should be exhumed and returned to the UK in exchange for the remains of Zimbabwean ancestors buried in Europe.
He said: “We still have Rhodes’ remains in Matobo. What do you think about it? If you go to the shrine, you don’t know whether you are talking to Rhodes or our ancestors.
“His remains must be returned to where he hailed from and we can also have our ancestral remains which are being kept in Europe.”
Calls for the exhumation of Rhodes’ remains date back to 2012 when former president Robert Mugabe blocked an attempt by Zanu-PF politicians and war veterans to dig them up because they believed they were responsible for the lack of rainfall in the area.
Today, the national park is a tourist attraction and visitors pay a small fee to enter and an extra price to see Rhodes’ grave.
Rhodes was a politician and mining magnate who formed the De Beers diamond company and was Prime Minister of the Cape Colony (southern South Africa) from 1890 to 1896.
Rhodes and his British South Africa Company founded Rhodesia, present day Zimbabwe, which the company named after him in 1895.