Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Home Lead Story Black Power Agenda to Remove Columbus Statue

Black Power Agenda to Remove Columbus Statue

The Columbus statue is located in Columbus Square in Port of Spain

By Dr Kumar Mahabir

The National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago has been strangely silent on the rowdy and relentless campaign to remove the historical statue of Christopher Columbus in the capital city of Port of Spain. I was the Vice Chairman of the Trust from 2013 to 2015.

The Trust seems to place its current Afro-centric agenda above and beyond the public and national interest.

On Labour Day (19/06/20), for example, the Trust chose to highlight only trade unionist Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler in its Facebook page. There was a mere one-word reference to, and no photo of Rienzi (Krishna Deonarine, 1905 -1972) who founded both the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) and the All Trinidad Sugar Estates and Factory Workers’ Union (ATSEFWU), and was the OWTU’s first President General.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.

Citizens for Conservation

The Trust is genetically connected to the Citizens for Conservation of Trinidad & Tobago (CFC) with some members having footholds in both organisations at the executive level.

CFC has a long a long history of fighting to protect the natural and man-made heritage in the twin-island republic. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trust and the CFC were jointly hosting exhibitions, tours and lectures to better educate people to appreciate and protect heritage sites and statues, monuments, churches, plantation houses and cemeteries.

Columbus’s life-sized bronze statue is located in Columbus Square in Port of Spain on the corner of Independence Square and Duncan Street, just east of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

The site is on the Heritage Asset Register of the National Trust which designates the square and the statue as “worthy of notation and preservation.” Despite the horrendous history of Columbus, his statue represents a tangible historical link to the Europe, Africa and Asia since 1498. It is one of the few statues of Columbus in the Caribbean and is a destination site for local and foreign tourists.

Black Power agenda to remove Columbus statue
As part of the Black-Lives-Matter protest, activists defaced the bronze statue a few nights ago. Wikimedia Commons

As part of the Black-Lives-Matter protest, activists defaced the bronze statue a few nights ago. They wrapped it with red “Danger” caution tape. They covered the bust with a black garbage bag and hung a sign with the word “Murderer” on it.

The Columbus statue is a national monument defined by the National Trust Act (1991, last amended in 2015) as “any building, structure or other work of man or nature, whether above or below the surface of the land or the floor of the sea, of national architectural, aesthetic or historic interest.”

Section 27 of the Act states that any person who (a) “alters, damages, injures or defaces any listed property” or (b) “demolishes or destroys or causes to be demolished or destroyed” such property is liable on summary conviction to a fine, and the Court may, in addition, “order him to pay to the Trust by way of compensation such sum as the Court thinks fit for the purpose of repairing or restoring the property.”

Mahatma Gandhi statue next

The leading figure behind the fascist, extremist and warring campaign to remove the Columbus statue in Port of Spain is Shabaka Kambon. His father, Kafra Kambon, was one of the leaders of the Black Power Movement. On February 26, 1970, they stormed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port of Spain and draped black cloth on the sacred statues.

In a letter entitled “Is the Black Power protests repeating itself?”, Imaam Iqubal Hydal wrote: “The statue of Columbus was defaced in a similar manner as the statues in the church were blackened during the march of the Black Power movement … If such a protest should get out of hand, next would be the church itself and animosity to names such as Chacon, Christopher, Martinez et al. (Newsday 20/6/20, Express 18/6/20, Guardian 16/6/20).

Black Power agenda to remove Columbus statue
It would not be surprising if they remove all Mahatma Gandhi statues in public places in Trinidad. Wikimedia Commons

Also Read: 70% Organizations Feel Half of Their Workforce Will Turn Digital Post Pandemic

Kambon is being aided and abetted by retired history Professor Dr Brinsley Samaroo who claims that he was one of the leaders of the 1970 Black Power revolt. It would not be surprising if Samaroo supports Kambon in his next move, which is to remove all Mahatma Gandhi statues in public places in Trinidad, particularly the one in Kew Place, Gandhi Square, Port of Spain. In 2018, African lecturers at the University of Ghana relocated a statue of Gandhi because they claim that he was “racist.”

Samaroo is expected to also support Kambon in campaigning to change the name of the soon-to-be-opened Mahatma Gandhi Institute cultural complex in Mt Hope, located near the Arthur Lok Jack campus. This imminent protest by Samaroo and Kambon may again stall the progress of this project, started 21 years ago when then Prime Ministers Basdeo Panday and Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned the sod at Mt Hope.

The solution to this Columbus crisis is a compromise. The monument should be left alone but the inscription in the plaque can change. Samaroo, Kambo and the Warao Queen can be free to write “Monster and Murderer” permanently in bronze at the bottom of the explorer’s statue.

About the Author-Dr Mahabir is an anthropologist who has published 11 books.



Most Popular

Hindu Gods to Worship According to Your Rashi

There are many Gods and Goddesses in Hindu Dharma. If you're confused, which God should you worship and why, then here are answers to...

Habits To Teach Your Child in This COVID-19 World

The fight against COVID-19 continues to take place all over the world. With most of us homebound owing to the home-sheltering and social restrictions,...

Follow A Low-Carb Diet For Weight Loss

Thinking weight loss usually means cutting carbohydrates - whether that's sugar or bread - out of your diet; the first option most people turn...

Cancer Cells Can be Killed By Fatty Acid, Says Research

In a major study, the researchers have shown that a fatty acid called dihomogamma-linolenic acid, or DGLA, can kill human cancer cells. The study, published...

Here’s How You Can Avoid Skin Allergies Caused by Masks

Wearing a mask is a must, but this has led to many complaints of various skin issues. Masks create a hot and moist environment...

Israel and it’s Colonialist Agenda Towards Palestine

By Alisha  While the pandemic engraves its name in the history textbook and economic and racial tensions spread like a wildfire, Israel’s threat to annex...

Top 5 Hindu Temples to Visit Across Asia

According to many scholars, Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, with roots dating back more than 4,000 years. Approximately 95 percent of the world’s...

Stress hormone Linked to Higher Blood Sugar Levels in Diabetic Patients

Researchers have showcased a clear link between the stress hormone cortisol and higher blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Previous research has...

Recent Comments