Community Everybody Hates Kupa

How To Choose Who Should Replace Nelson

Kupa offers the factors that should be implemented in making the decision

Hail Gine On family, hope all is well. I am Kupa. Some of ya’ll know me, some of ya’ll will get to know me and form your own opinions. One thing everyone who knows me knows I love Bajan culture and not just Crop Over, but interesting facts about our history or culture we don’t know much about and celebrating them. Usually I share on my social media but the Simmonses (as I call them) have given me the opportunity to share my thoughts, opinions and even allow me to share some things.

Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell

In 1813 the planter class in Barbados, aka the rich racists white boys of that time, felt it necessary to erect a statue honoring Lord Horatio Nelson. At that time, the consciousness of the Barbadian society was to uphold hegemonic British white supremacy, therefore; despite the country having free blacks and coloreds, many of them had little say about the country’s matters. They erected a statue of Nelson 30 years before England actually did. It was a strange pea green colour and by 1880s, the black populace referred to him as ‘de green man in Trafalgar Square’. 

For respect of our ancestors, I’ll be calling him that.

The consciousness of society has shifted to post colonialism thought and actions. The black populace dominates the governance of this island, whilst the white populace, far smaller than in 1813, still hold majority wealth. Basically, white supremacy is still quite strong in the island despite a black government leadership. Since 1961, there’s been constant conversations about the removal of De Green Man in Trafalgar Square. Each successive government has failed to remove him. The most that has happened was shifting him a few feet from his original spot because he became a hindrance to the traffic flow in a new modern Barbados…there’s irony in this. Also he was shifted 180 degrees. Trafalgar Square was renamed National Heroes Square in honor of Barbados’ 10 National Heroes. So now he’s…ugh…De Green Man in Heroes Square. A man who upheld white supremacy values, advocated for genocide and slavery, who hated this island and had very little to do with its history, stands in a prime location in our Nation’s capital. In 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, a young local activist Alex Downes created an online petition to remove the statue. At last after some embarrassing fumbling, the government conceded to allow modern Barbados to speak and get de Green Man outta town. 

Periodically, we have had many discussions removing him from the calls of cultural icons like The Mighty Gabby and Adonijah, historians like Dr. Trevor Marshall, activists like David Comissiong to name quite a few. In 2018 the statue was vandalized at night on the eve of our Independence Day anniversary. I remembered a lot racist white people saying Bussa statue is next. The removal of Nelson is a symbolic act of decolonialisation, he is a relic of the past whose representation still remains in the psyche of black Barbadians. 

I’ve compiled a list of people who I believe could replace De Green Man in Heroes Square. And every week, for those who haven’t read my blog, there will be another installment of the next suggestion.

There are some factors that I looked for while thinking about a suitable replacement…though anyone or anything is far more suitable than that ugly monstrosity. Not all of my suggestions have these factors but these were things I looked at :

Reflects The Consciousness of the Barbadian People

We must see ourselves in the people we honor. They must be an inspiration to where we are and where we want to go. In a society finding itself in a post-colonial world, the people we honor should be people who fought against the hegemonic ideals that held the populace down.

Does Not Need To Be Born Barbadian

Before some of you get upset and start screaming at me, recognize that General Bussa and the Right Clement Osbourne Payne were not born Barbadians. Let me remind you that they were the most influential freedom fighters of their era and their actions inspired insurrections that ultimately brought dramatic changes in this country. The key factor is the contribution one makes to the development of this country.

Significance to Bridgetown

Bridgetown’s history is painful, beautiful, heroic and full of black struggle and resilience, De Green Man does not fit that bill. All of our statues in rightful places have reasons to be there. Errol Barrow’s statue is in Independence Square, Sir Garfield Sobers’ statue is outside Kensington Oval, Clement Payne’s bust is in Golden Square. Let me remind you that the Bussa Statue is actually the Emancipation Statue and his contributions would’ve been in St. Philip, however; the Emancipation Statue has a view that no matter which part of the highway you’re coming from, you see him in a majestic picturesque view of Barbados. A view that exalts that this island is ours.

With that said, I hope you check in next week as I already had a lengthy introduction with some rules to my list. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed and you might learn or remember things. 

I gine see hail wunna later, be good.

Everybody Hates Kupa is a weekly column written by Matthew Kupakwashe Murrell.

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