I was listening to my favorite singer, songwriter of the 70’s and 80’s Kris Kristopherson last night and the fact that he was a Rhodes scholar brought this post to mind.
President Bill Clinton was one and so was the former Senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey. They are among a select group that since 1904 have been offered Rhodes scholarships.
It all started with Cecil J. Rhodes, A British colonial pioneer and statesman who died in 1902. He was a man with a vision and a loyalty to Great Britain that bordered on zealotry.
Cecil Rhodes made his fortune in South Africa by first supervising and then owning a diamond mine.
Over the years Rhodes concentrated on two things. Adding territory to the British Empire and controlling more and more diamond mines.
Rhodes became an elected official and through political power did more than any other person of his time to increase the territory controlled by the British.
He forced the annexation of what is now Botswana. He forced the Matabele tribe to surrender most of its land. Land, so vast, that today, that same territory comprises two countries. Zambia and Zimbabwe.
By 1888 Rhodes had combined all his diamond mines under the name of the De Beers Consolidated Mines. He was very influential and very rich and he had a vision. He wanted to strengthen the ties among English-speaking people and broaden their knowledge of one another by having the best of their young and potential leaders take degrees together where he went to school, Oxford University.
Approximately 90 Rhodes Scholarships are awarded each year.