Must Rhodes Fall, History Be Denied? : Duncan Clarke’s new book, Rhodes’ Ghost, now released, questions critics

Press Release – 1 September, 2020

Rhodes’ Ghost: The Conquest of Zambesia – By Duncan Clarke

(On Amazon worldwide: £30 Softback, plus in Kindle Version) – for details: Content, Illustrations, Maps, Appendices


Must Rhodes Fall, and History be Denied?

Cecil Rhodes, the founder of Rhodesia, was the most-written about figure of the Victorian late 19th century. He founded the bequest for Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University in his Last Will, from which over 8,000 scholars worldwide have been beneficiaries. Many of them rose to prominence in world affairs.

For decades Rhodes was rightly memorialised by a statue displayed in the street outside Oriel College, Oxford.

Oriel College’s governors have voted to launch an ‘independent commission of inquiry’ into the issues about the statue, and have “expressed their wish to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes”. Many in Oxford and elsewhere consider this an unwise act of anti-history.

Rhodes has been vilified by the #RhodesMustFall Movement, certain academics and in protests at Oxford and many other universities.

Memorials and statues of Rhodes were removed from Harare and Bulawayo by Robert Mugabe in July 1980, following Independence, and 35 years later from the University of Cape Town in 2015.

In Cape Town, the famous Rhodes Memorial has been defaced seven times in the last few years. Rhodes’ head on the statue there was decapitated in 2020.

In literature, arts, satire, poetry, film and documentaries, Rhodes has been often castigated by prominent biographers, writers, historians, politicians and the media commentariat.

Many ‘post-modernists’ assert a litany of claims about Rhodes’ sins of omission and commission.

Rhodes’ life, acts and thoughts, as well as achievements, have been questioned and often condemned. These claims and theses are answered in Rhodes’ Ghost.

Mark Twain wrote that Rhodes was “an Archangel with wings to half the world, Satan with a tail to the other half”.

Rhodes was denounced by Vladimir I. Lenin and John A. Hobson, but praised by Queen Victoria and Lord Salisbury, among many luminaries of that epoch and others since.

Cecil Rhodes

The initiatives taken by Rhodes ended backward feudalism in Zambesia to bring modernity and economic progress to Rhodesia, a state that lasted 90 years – the longest recorded in Africa – and the ‘jewel of Africa’ then inherited by Zimbabwe.

Rhodes was the only man – apart from the Ndebele king, Mzilikazi – to be given the ‘royal salute’, Bayete, at burial in the Matopos Hills in April 1902. Over three thousand Ndebele warriors with their indunas or chiefs called him Nkosi or chief in 1896, after he had negotiated lasting peace, following war and rebellion.

Nelson Mandela created the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation in an association and twinning with Rhodes’ heritage in Cape Town on 1 February 2003. Mandela said: “We are meeting here with the memories, if not the ghost of … Cecil Rhodes tangibly present … it is reassuring … to know that after all these centuries there are moments and occasions when men like … Rhodes are remembered for posterity”.

When Rhodes funded the Pioneer Column to Fort Salisbury in Mashonaland in 1890, he followed on with seven epic journeys into Rhodesia, from 1891 to 1901. He deemed in his ‘Last Will’ to be buried there as ‘Rhodesian’.

Rhodes thwarted the designs of Paul Kruger’s Transvaal Republic and Afrikaners to take control of what was then Zambesia, and so equally halted Portuguese intrusions onto the plateau from Lisbon’s empire, including prazeros slavers, and threatening German interests.

Little appreciated it that several Rhodes’ initiatives halted slaving and rampant predation on Zambesia’s Great Plateau which had been conducted for well over fifty years, as practiced by the predatory, slaving Ndebele dynasties of Mzilikazi and Lobengula.

The raids of Ndebele warriors’ raids enslaved many Shona clans, slaughtered tens of thousands, stole their cattle and abducted women, and impoverished their weaker and fragmented patriarchal societies.

Praise: for Rhodes’ Ghost

Meticulously researched, ‘Rhodes’ Ghost: The Conquest of Zambesia’ uses Cecil John Rhodes’ voice to tell the longue durée history of Zambesia, from the San of eons ago forward to the founding of Rhodesia in 1890.

The book draws on detailed research, a voluminous bibliography and a century of historiography, about Zambesia and Rhodes’ thoughts, ideas and acts.

Rhodes’ life and primary legacy are laid bare in the most comprehensive record ever penned.

Rhodes’ Ghost provides a nuanced defence of Rhodes, with needed correction to the revisionist critiques that have long pervaded history and biography.

This detailed ‘historical autobiography’ is the most up-to-date interpretation of the vast literature that relates to one of the most prominent late 19th Victorian and early 20th century figures of world significance.

One critic, Hannes Wessels, wrote

“I don’t know how many books have been written about Cecil John Rhodes, but Duncan Clarke’s magisterial, ‘Rhodes’ Ghost’ might be close to the final word on this extraordinary man”.

For British Historian, Dan Snow, in conversation with Duncan Clarke: click


Duncan Clarke


Tel: +44-



The inner story and thoughts of Rhodes are revealed in this unique ‘historical autobiography’, written by Duncan Clarke, who was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia, in 1948.

The author published the acclaimed books: Africa: Crude Continent and Africa’s Future – and six others, on economic history in Rhodesia and Zimbabwe.

A well-known author and writer, Duncan Clarke is available for interviews and comment, and has been oft-quoted in international media and widely interviewed on radio and television worldwide, most recently by Podcast with British historian, Dan Snow, about Rhodes’ Ghost.

See Rhodes’ Ghost on Amazon – – in Softback, 800 pp, and in Kindle version.