CULTURE CLINIC: Thoughts On The Removal Of Nelson’s Statue

Photo by Reco Moore!


I was startled as I read the reports and saw images and displays of this historic event as it unfolded on November 16, 2020. Removing the statue of Nelson first, then offering the well-intended performances may have been less confusing, more effective, at least to me.

I can recall the meeting hosted by Hon. John King to discuss the removal of the statue on Saturday August 8, 2020. There, Pan African Coalition’s representative suggested that the Spiritual Baptist Community be involved in a ceremony around its removal. This was my response, emailed on Monday August 10, 2020:

Dear Hon. Minister King,

I was pleased to be part of a civilised and rich discourse on the future of the space called Heroes Square.

As Chairman of the Council of Spiritual Baptist Churches of Barbados… the suggestion that the Spiritual Baptist Community be involved in a ceremony around the removal of the statue is intriguing. Questions arise:

Was the statue commissioned in the first place?

Is there a protocol for erecting and for removing statues in Barbados?

I am less interested in being involved in the removal of the statue. My interest lies in what is being done to reimagine the space in its indigenous Barbadian perspective, to correct the injustice of erasing evidence of Afrika on these shores. To this end, I would advocate for the following:

Acknowledge and respect the presence of Afrika, even now in the square. As I went to support the young people who gathered to protest the presence of the statue, I was taken by the foliage, the trees, the sea and the sky, all resonating with the presence of ancestral spiritual energy. The surrounding buildings, while commissioned by Europeans, were built by Afro-Barbadians… More respect is due and needs to be done.

 From an African perspective, the Square, the town, and the bay are very much alive with epic memory, blood, and tears of our ancestors and those who were transported from here throughout the Americas. More needs to be done about that as well.

I would be interested in planning and getting involved in rituals to atone for the neglect that our ancestors who came to and through this place experienced, to ask their forgiveness, to invoke a level of awareness and consciousness to set the tone for a renewal and revival to repair the breach caused by enslavement, and colonization and our co-opting and participating in it.

It should (neither) be a political act, nor a christian act, nor a pan-africanist agenda. It should be inclusive of ALL afro-centric practitioners coming together to create a series of events at the end of which a ceremonial gathering may take place… 

Afrocentric and indigenous practitioners … we should be able to make our proposal and carry out these rituals for the honour of those who have passed and to change our present state of being…

Please advise.

Response? Silence! Not surprised…

“It is NOT ENOUGH…” (Kamau).

Dr. John Hunte PHD Cultural Studies UWI Cave Hill

Culture Clinic is a weekly column crafted by Dr. John Hunte.

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