He was born in England in 1853. His family was well-to-do, and he believed in the English as the model for how to live one’s life. His health as a child was very fragile and he was thought to have TB. As a teen, he was sent to South Africa thinking the climate would help restore his health.
While in Africa, he began to acquire a monopoly interest in diamond mining. Even to this day the diamond company he formed, De Beers, is still the dominant force in the diamond industry.
As his health improved, he returned to England to continue his education at Oxford. It was at Oxford that he began to believe in British imperialism. He also formed an appreciation of how an elitist education is fundamental to societal leadership. His belief that the entire world should be under British rule was formed while he was at Oxford.
He became involved in politics at age 27 and nine years later, he became the prime minister of a country that he had a large part in creating. During his time in office, his major achievements were:
- Taking of land from indigenous people and transferal of land to the British
- Barring Indigenous people from voting
- Forming a country which he named for himself.
He was a racist who had little regard for the people of Africa, considering them barbarians. He is considered one of the architects of apartheid and believed in white supremacy.
As his health declined, he needed to decide what to do with the vast wealth he had accumulated. He had never married so he had no natural heirs. He was believed to have a love relationship with his male private secretary but including him in his estate would have seemed inappropriate.
What he decided to do was create an international scholarship at Oxford to recognize talent. The competition for these scholarships is intense and is thought to be biased toward those from elitist backgrounds. While the Rhodes Scholarships are highly thought of, one wonders how they would be viewed if more were known and how the wealth that supports them was accumulated.
Just imagine how we white wash the reputations of those who lived a life of harm to others. Charitable giving is often used as a disguise for what would generally be thought of as an unsavory life.
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“Africa is still lying ready for us it is our duty to take it. It is our duty to seize every opportunity of acquiring more territory and we should keep this one idea steadily before our eyes that more territory simply means more of the Anglo-Saxon race more of the best the most human, most honorable race the world possesses.” – Cecil Rhodes