Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Remove monuments of hate and ‘racist barbaric adventure’, CRFP targets Columbus again

Remove monuments of hate and ‘racist barbaric adventure’, CRFP targets Columbus again

“[…] Germany […] has several statues of Adolf Hitler by the renowned British sculptor Arnold Brecker. Absolutely no one in their right mind believes that these should be put back on public display because Hitler was part of their history.

“There is a clear understanding that he represents something that is morally reprehensible. The problem some of us are having in the Caribbean is that we are unable to make the connection between fascist violence against white lives and colonial violence against black and brown lives…”

The following statement which reiterates a call for the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue from Port of Spain was submitted to Wired868 by Cross Rhodes Freedom Project director Shabaka Kambon:

Photo: The Christopher Columbus statue in Port of Spain was defaced again on either 13 or 14 June 2020.
(via CRFP)

The Cross Rhodes Freedom Project will hand over a petition with 8,000 signatures to Port-of-Spain Mayor Joel Martinez on Wednesday at 11am calling for the city’s Columbus Monument to be moved from its current place of public reverence to a museum where it can be properly contextualised.

Expressions of support have come from indigenous leaders, from leading regional historians including Professors Brinsley Samaroo, Bridget Brereton, Dr Claudius Fergus, Verene Shepard and the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, as well as a broad cross section of civil society groups.

Even the city corporation’s own poll demonstrates overwhelming support for removal. Anything else would be a subversion of justice and the democratic will of the people of this nation.

Beyond Columbus, the CRFP is calling for the establishment of a commission to look into all the city’s landmarks—similar to the one launched by mayor Sadiq Khan in London last week, which will review not only statues but also the names on public buildings, streets, plazas and plaques.

Fifty-eight years after independence, we cannot continue this casual celebration of colonial violence. The country’s monuments must now come to reflect our diversity and embody our highest ideals, expressing something about who we are and what we aspire to be in the context of our Caribbean civilisation.

Monuments dedicated to the public reverence of persons who committed crimes against humanity, and all those who aided and abetted them in their racist barbaric adventures are not heritage but hate. Their presence is a grotesque affront to our independence ideals and we have the right to decide what happens them.

Photo: Germany has long removed statutes of its controversial former Führer and Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler.

Those who think that this is a radical proposition must step back and see that it fits clearly with a longstanding global consensus. Germany for example, has several statues of Adolf Hitler by the renowned British sculptor Arnold Brecker. Absolutely no one in their right mind believes that these should be put back on public display because Hitler was part of their history.

There is a clear understanding that he represents something that is morally reprehensible. The problem some of us are having in the Caribbean is that we are unable to make the connection between fascist violence against white lives and colonial violence against black and brown lives.

This, is not an accident. This is what Guyanese scholar Jan Carew warned us about when he said that false heroes would: “burden not just our history, but our character as well.”

History was weaponised against the subjugated peoples during the colonial period. The idea was for the victims of genocide, slavery, indentureship and apartheid to see the perpetrators of these crimes as their heroes too.

Statues and monuments were part of this elaborate process of conditioning those who were subjected to accept the existing order with its inherited structures of wealth and privilege.

Taking public spaces back to honour real heroes will not fix all of our problems but it will help to decolonize the minds of upcoming generations and signal to the world that we have the capacity to understand our past and the will and moral character to imagine and construct a better future.

Photo: Two spectators take a selfie during Trinidad and Tobago’s 2016 Independence Day Parade celebrations.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Want to share your thoughts with Wired868? Email us at editor@wired868.com. Please keep your letter between 300 to 600 words and be sure to read it over first for typos and punctuation. We don't publish anonymously unless there is a good reason, such as an obvious threat of harassment or job loss.

Check Also

Dear Editor: ‘Loyal slaves’ sign removed from House of Count de Lopinot

“[…] No forced-labour camp in Trinidad and Tobago or anywhere in the world should celebrate …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

4 comments

  1. Earl Best

    Shabaka, You know that you can’t simply pretend that you have not heard the claim that Mohandas Gandhi was a racist and therefore should have no statue in Port-of-Spain.

    CRFP would be well advised to deal with that claim before it jumps up and confronts you at an awkward moment.

    • He can and will earl. Shabaka, like his father are politicians! Shabaka knows that The masses of Hindus & Indians would close ranks on the Gandhi issue. Gandhi was a Brahminist (“Hindu”) “Mahatma” (Saint). Gandhi had the same mindset towards africans as fellow Brahmin-ist Sat Maharaj

  2. Ask anyone in TT if the statue of Christopher Columbus or the Woodbrook Street named Baden-Powell has any effect on them when they pass by the statue or walk on Baden-Powell street. As for me, the answer is a resounding NO.

    All the energies utilized towards removing monuments of hate and ‘racist barbaric adventure’ will not put us no further ahead of anything! It will not improve our lives. Energies could be spent in a more meaningful direction. This call by Cross Rhodes Freedom Project director Shabaka Kambon is merely abstract and will serve no useful purpose. History cannot be rewritten.

    Nuff said!