Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS -

most ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion in re­la­tion to our treat­ment of mon­u­ments.”

But some of Ja­maica’s most out­spo­ken cul­tural ac­tivists be­lieve that the coun­try should move ag­gres­sively in scrub­bing pub­lic spa­ces of what they deem em­blems of en­dorse­ment to white slaver op­pres­sion.

Gen­der and de­vel­op­ment stud­ies aca­demic, Pro­fes­sor Opal Palmer Adisa, strongly ad­vo­cates that the fer­vour of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment have a defin­ing im­pact on this gen­er­a­tion.

“I do think that as an in­de­pen­dent na­tion, we ought to be more cor­rect in terms of what we name things,” said Palmer Adisa.

“We ought to put aside peo­ple like Christo­pher Colum­bus in some base­ment mu­seum and have things that more rep­re­sent and re­flect the 95 per cent African pop­u­la­tion that Ja­maica is com­prised of.”

Ja­maica still has stat­ues ven­er­at­ing Christo­pher Colum­bus, in St Ann; Bri­tish ad­mi­ral Ge­orge Rod­ney, in St Cather­ine; and Queen Vic­to­ria in

Pa­rade, Kingston.

Pro­fes­sor Emerita Carolyn Cooper is also lob­by­ing for the top­pling of colo­nial-era stat­ues, but she be­lieves that Ja­maica needs to go be­yond su­per­fi­cial chal­lenges to im­pe­ri­al­ism.

“The de­sire to top­ple them makes per­fect sense. But it can’t stop there. It’s an empty ges­ture if the sys­tems of op­pres­sion in the present are not also trans­formed,” Cooper told The Gleaner.


Cooper com­mended the launch­ing of a pe­ti­tion to re­name Lady Mus­grave Road – cit­ing the wife of an 18th-cen­tury gover­nor of Ja­maica, An­thony Mus­grave – as a pos­i­tive move but ar­gued that the Gov­ern­ment should also shed other ves­tiges of colo­nial­ism such as hav­ing the Queen of Eng­land as Ja­maica’s head of state and her rep­re­sen­ta­tive, the gover­nor gen­eral.

“That’s an­other kind of statue that needs to be top­pled. We need to go be­yond win­dow dress­ing to the more sub­stan­tive is­sues,” she said.

And Amina Black­wood-Meeks, pro­fes­sor and ad­viser on African and Caribbean cul­ture, said the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment should be placed within the con­text of the on­go­ing project of de­coloni­sa­tion.

“We need to recog­nise that per­haps the great­est con­tri­bu­tion we can make to this de­coloni­sa­tion project is in ways in which we im­pact and al­ter sys­tems and struc­tures and cre­ate new ones so that eman­ci­pa­tion and free­dom have a greater and dif­fer­ent mean­ings than cur­rently ob­tain,” Black­woodMeeks said.

Mean­while, Black Lives Mat­ter protests con­tin­ued yes­ter­day in Eng­land, with thou­sands of demon­stra­tors con­verg­ing and call­ing for the re­moval of the Ce­cil Rhodes statue from Ox­ford Univer­sity. Rhodes has been widely de­scribed as a racist, im­pe­ri­al­ist busi­ness­man ac­cused of back­ing a 1895 gold-loot­ing raid that trig­gered the Se­cond Boer War in which thou­sands were killed.

But on the benev­o­lent end of the mo­ral com­pass, Ja­maicans have been re­cip­i­ents of Rhodes Schol­ar­ships for many decades, en­abling some of the is­land’s bright­est tal­ent to study at Ox­ford.

The fer­vour to re­move the Rhodes statue started un­suc­cess­fully in 2016, but the cam­paign has been reignited af­ter the top­pling and dump­ing of the Ed­ward Colston 18-foot bronze statue in the River

Avon in Bris­tol on Sun­day. Colston was a 17th-cen­tury slave trader.

A num­ber of Ja­maican in­flu­encers have joined sev­eral Ox­ford Univer­sity stu­dent groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions de­mand­ing the re­moval of the Rhodes statue.

“I am en­cour­aged to see the re­newed calls for the re­moval of Ce­cil Rhodes’ statue at Oriel Col­lege,” Kamille Adair-Mor­gan, Ja­maica’s 2012 Rhodes Scholar and a past win­ner of the Win­ter Wil­liams Prize at Ox­ford for In­ter­na­tional Eco­nomic Law, told The Gleaner.

“... This im­agery is un­ac­cept­able for a univer­sity that ought to be cham­pi­oning in­clu­sive­ness, equal­ity, and dig­nity for all stu­dents, and all mem­bers of so­ci­ety.”

And the view of Ja­maica-born priest and com­mu­nity ac­tivist Fa­ther An­drew Moughtin-Mumby was equally clear.

“The statue of Ce­cil Rhodes in Oriel Col­lege should be care­fully re­moved by the col­lege and de­ac­ti­vated in a cre­ative and pos­i­tive way to bring about heal­ing. I am sure the great minds of Ox­ford can think of great ways to do that to show that Black Lives Mat­ter, now, then, and for­ever.”

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