Race and South Africa: The size of an apartheid leader's statue tells you everything you need to know

A student passes the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at the University of Cape Town. Last week, students threw a bucket of excrement over the statue. Photograph: Schalk van Zuydam/AP

What is the significance of a former statesman’s statue? This a question that has been doing the rounds in Cape Town in the last couple of weeks.

The statue of General Louis Botha, South Africa’s first colonial prime minister, towers over the entrance of Parliament. Nearby, about 200 metres away, is a far less imposing bust: of Nelson Mandela.

Why the disparity?

Botha’s legacy is contested. Some credit him as the founding father of the Union of South Africa – a project that unified the opposing Boer and British republics. But his legacy is also rooted in the exercise of brute force, one that divided South Africa along racial lines and resulted in the dominance of one group over another.

Read more: The size of an apartheid leader’s statue tells you everything you need to know about race and South Africa – Quartz.