Member of Parliament Trevor Prescod has stood in solidarity with those who want the statue of “wicked” Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson removed from Heroes Square.
Prescod made the declaration in Parliament on a Private Member’s Business resolution spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement. The resolution condemns all forms of anti-black racism and advocates for the freedom and respect for human rights.
The prominent Pan-Africanist advocate questioned why past administrations at the centre of power of the majority-black independent nation found it difficult to openly denounce the presence of the statue of the Napoleonic naval war hero who never actually visited Barbados while he was stationed in the Caribbean. He was an avowed supporter of white planters and a stout defender of the institution in the British House of Lords until his death in action in October 1805. The statue was erected by public subscription in 1813.
Prescod who also declared that he would not encourage any government to leave Nelson at that location at the crossroads of Broad Street, Heroes Square – formerly Trafalgar Square – and High Street, saying it is “craziness” for anyone not to see a problem with the statue at the head of the island’s central business district.
Prescod, the Minister of Environment and National Beautification, argued that Nelson was a wicked man who should not be glorified since he was opposed to the freedom of the black enslaved.
He declared: “You think that the people who put it there are thinking the same way? You put Nelson at the top of the commercial pocket in the major and central street in Bridgetown and then you put the mutual building at the bottom. So you walk down and you see that, you walk up and you see Nelson. You don’t understand what it means? You don’t have to read a textbook.
“There are a million textbooks that tell you what it means. It means that the principle of governance, our specific social type, a race, whether you are talking about it biologically or sociologically, they understand the psychology of the importance of every little boy and girl walking up Bay Street asking Mummy what is that and mummy can’t even explain what it is she is looking at because she never read a history book that would tell her how wicked Nelson was.
“This is a wicked man. All of us in here that sitting down at present if Nelson had his way you couldn’t even walk about good. And to talk about coming into a House of Assembly, it would have never happened. Black people should be ashamed not to understand how wicked this man was.”
Prescod asked fellow lawmakers what it would mean if Nelson was placed in the wharf, at the corner of Nelson Street, or the middle of the cane ground in St Thomas. He also indicated that something is wrong that there are those opposed to the naming of the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill’s sports complex for Jamaican Sprinter Usain Bolt, but yet there is a statue of Barbadian cricket hero, Sir Frank Worrell, in Jamaica.
Last Saturday, Prescod joined scores who gathered at Heroes Square to protest for the removal of the controversial statue. At the event organized by the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration (CMPI), the protestors called on the Government to remove the statue before August 1, which is celebrated as Emancipation Day.
He said it was important to note that young people are among those agitating for the statue to go, with former journalist Alex Downes starting an online petition several weeks ago. That petition has since received over 10,000 signatures.
Prescod noted that there cannot be any sane human being in 2020 that cannot understand the significance behind the call for the removal of the statue.
Challenging his own party’s past rhetoric and positions, Prescod then said: “This Barbados Labour Party (BLP) indicated that they were going to do that. This Barbados Labour Party also said that we are going into a republican form of government.
“This new dispensation must correct those wrongs, we have to. We also had reparation on the agenda, we went to Chile, we went to South Africa, the present Prime Minister was part and parcel of that team.”
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