Some questions hold deep reserves, memories of colonial plunder and murmurs of dissent.
Who Took These? is a photographic exhibition featuring images of the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford (RMFO) movement. Between 2015-2016, three major protests were organized by students to demand the removal of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes from Oriel College. In 2020, the global surge of #BlackLivesMatter protests reignited debates around colonial iconography, gathering large crowds to Oriel College to demand, again, the statues removal. Institutions, organizations, and individuals began sharing pictures of the new events and prior protests taken from the movements’ Facebook page. Yet, no credit was given to the photographers. Amidst the online circulation, Jacqueline Otagburuagu reposted twenty-three photos on her Facebook page with the caption, “photo by me.” Was it an accusation, a correction, a coming out? This exhibition returns to the visual narrative of the Rhodes Must Fall Oxford movement as told by Jacquie Otagburuagu. In a university culture devoid of protest singing, Otagburuagu not only documented the movement, the vibrancy of her photography served as a visual testament and a protest song. Continuing the ongoing work of historical reckoning, activism and friendship, we ask, again: Who took these? What did they see?
Tadiwa Madenga and Athinangamso Esther Nkopo
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