“[…] Interestingly, I reside at Oxford Street and have lived there for the 34 years of my life. On one occasion years ago, I noticed some persons who appeared to be tourists, walking along Oxford Street and staring around as if they were searching for something.
“When I asked if they were lost, they shared that they were not, and were honoured to just be able to walk the street that Kwame Ture walked on…”
In the following Letter to the Editor, acting Port of Spain Mayor Hillan Morean responds to concerns by Fatimah Mohammed on the possible renaming of Oxford Street to Kwame Ture Street:
I appreciate this opportunity for brief debate. To begin however, please note that the Port-of-Spain Corporation did not bring forward the proposal nor has it made a decision as yet.
I would have shared that we have received proposals from the Emancipation Support Committee for the renaming of Oxford Street after Stokely Carmichael or Kwame Ture as he is better known. That is the street on which he was born and lived.
I would have then indicated that there would have to be consultation on the matter with the residents and businesses of the street, as well as the respective ministries such as Tourism and Community Development amongst other stakeholders.
Port-of-Spain is a multicultural space and it welcomes all ideas that add to the collective appreciation of our heritage. It’s a city that is home to the highest Hindu temple in the country, in the area of Gonzales. It’s the home of Nelson Mandela Square, Mahatma Ghandi Square and parks named after panmen of repute and other icons.
Streets are named after a multicultural plethora of luminaries who served Port-of-Spain and the country well, as well as places of significance: from Lazare to Rust, Pole Carew to Delhi, Agostini to Baden Powell, Mucurapo Road to Alfre Richard Street, Dennis Mahabir to Faure Street, Ganges to Nile Street, Gaston Johnson to Kandahar Street, Luis to Mooneram, Alberto to Nepal, Pawan Street to Prada, Pujadas to Rudolph Charles, Ramjit Kumar to Woodford and so on.
It’s a space therefore that has adapted over time to honour not only our ancient history, but our modern history as well. As such, the city is open to all proposals and ideas that fit this understanding.
Currently, the council is reviewing a request to remove the Columbus statue in Port-of-Spain. While there has been no closure in that matter, our minutes will reflect discussions such as potentially relocating the Columbus statue to a museum and renaming the square after the First People with a statue that reflects their core values.
Further, I wish to share two experiences. Interestingly, I reside at Oxford Street and have lived there for the 34 years of my life.
On one occasion years ago, I noticed some persons who appeared to be tourists, walking along Oxford Street and staring around as if they were searching for something. When I asked if they were lost, they shared that they were not, and were honoured to just be able to walk the street that Kwame Ture walked on.
And secondly, a few weeks ago the city hosted a visiting Councilman from Jackson, Tennessee. We held a dinner in his honour at Jenny’s on the Boulevard, and took him around the restaurant with its iconic images of our cultural, sporting, political and other luminaries.
He casually observed all our big names, knowing none—not Kitchener, not Sparrow, not Dwight Yorke, a little about Brian Lara, none of the other pictures and bios on the wall. But when he saw the picture and bio of Kwame Ture, he exclaimed in awe: “Kwame Ture is from Trinidad?”