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Lorrie Chan-Henry

Date Released: Mon, 15 May 2017 08:49 +0200

Rhodes University is very special to me. As a child we would visit the grounds often. I have strong roots in Grahamstown. I was born there as did my late father in 1910. He ran his business there, being an active member of the community. My late sister Josephine Henry worked as secretary for Prof. J.L.B. Smith at Rhodes' Ichthyology Department back in the 50s. I attended Rhodes from 1960 to 1963 and graduated in April 1964 with a Bachelor of Social Science. I was the first ethnic Chinese to graduate from Rhodes and the first practicing social worker in the country of Chinese ethnicity, working in Johannesburg. I left South Africa in 1967 after experiencing blatant discrimination in the work place. I immigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1968.
I am not in favour of a name change. I was always discriminated against because I am Chinese. Rhodes University was, however different, accepting me for what I am. During my three year study there, I never experienced discrimination. Faculty members, staff and students accepted me without question and those three years were my first experience of respect, dignity and acceptance. It was a good positive experience that gave me confidence.
Rhodes University is named after Cecil John Rhodes not for what he stood for but because money was obtained from his education trust fund to build Rhodes University. Cecil John Rhodes lived in the colonial era.  Among his many faults, he was a philanthropist and South Africa discriminated against anyone that was not white. We cannot and should not wipe out the history by taking down statues and removing names. Cecil John Rhodes is part of the South Africa. What we need to do is recognize the discrimination, the hardships it brought to many and condemn all forms of discrimination and make institutions like Rhodes University a better place for everyone. The world although condemned the Jewish concentration camps, have kept the names so that we remember what happened there. People who get the scholarship named after Cecil John Rhodes to attend Oxford University are known as Rhodes Scholars. It is a prestigious scholarship and the scholars are admired throughout the world for their academic achievements. Many are non whites from various countries. This scholarship still bears his name, so why should  Rhodes University not continue to bear his name?
Lorrie Chan-Henry
Toronto, Canada

Source:Alumni Relations