The Founder: Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power

By Robert I. Rotberg; Miles F. Shore | Go to book overview

16
"The Predatory Instincts of Our Race" Making War in Rhodesia

RHODES FINALLY VISITED his newly fashioned colony in late 1891, after the conclusion of his first full legislative session as premier. This inspection, at a time when the Rhodesian experiment was established, but was still vulnerable to African attack and financially precarious, inaugurated an intensified, empirical involvement by Rhodes in the detailed affairs of his creation. Much more than the mines, Stellaland and Goshen, his parliamentary accomplishments, or even the rebuilding of Groote Schuur, Rhodesia was his triumphant offspring.

In Rhodesia, Rhodes found an object of care and concern of the kind that Erikson has identified as a mark of a man's sucessful navigation of the early mid-life crisis of generativity. It gave Rhodes, unmarried and childless, an outlet for that natural desire to be needed which most men satisfy in parenthood. What Erikson calls "the widening concern for what has been generated by love, necessity, or accident" which "potentially extends to whatever a man generates and leaves behind, creates and produces . . ." for Rhodes became a preoccupation and passion. 1 Along with seeking a personal destiny through the mechanism of his many wills, Rhodesia drew Rhodes out of himself, thus countering the self-absorption which inevitably is the chief vulnerability of those who are able to translate their dreams into concrete accomplishments. To nurture the young Rhodesia into adolescence was for him more than the obvious imperial task. After all, the colony by no accident carried his name; if Rhodes were to live on after death, that territorial extension of himself must prove a success.

Given the scale and complexity of Rhodes' varied endeavors, his association with this singular activity was more direct, personal, and intense than it might ordinarily have been during the busy 1890s. It was his troubled child. That he interrupted his pursuit of a diamond monopoly and of political ad-

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