Cecil John Rhodes DCL (5 July 1853 – 26 March 1902) was an English-born businessman, mining magnate, and politician in South Africa. He was the founder of the diamond company De Beers, which today markets 40% of the world's rough diamonds and at one time marketed 90%. An ardent believer in colonialism and imperialism, he was the founder of the state of Rhodesia, which was named after him. After independence, Rhodesia separated into the nations of Northern and Southern Rhodesia, later renamed Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively. South Africa's Rhodes University is also named after him. He set up the provisions of the Rhodes Scholarship, which is funded by his estate.
"Cecil John Rhodes was as integral a participant in southern African and British imperial history as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln are in their respective eras in United States history. Thus most histories of South Africa covering the last decades of the nineteenth century are contributions to the historiography of Cecil Rhodes."
Rhodes was born in 1853 in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, England. He was the fifth son of the Reverend Francis William Rhodes and his wife Louisa Peacock Rhodes. His father was a Church of England vicar who was proud of never having preached a sermon longer than 10 minutes. His siblings included Francis William Rhodes, who became an army officer.