Statues of Systemic Racism
In a recent viral post on Twitter, scores of Bahamians signed onto a petition that called for the
removal of the historic statue of Christopher Columbus located in the front of the Government
House. This comes shortly after protests and riots against systemic racism in America emerged, following the death of an African American man named George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.
For quite some time, discussions were underway for the removal or destruction of Christopher
Columbus statue. Craig Woodside started this petition and with more than 10,000 signatures, it might be taken into account and tabled in the House of Assembly for a resolution. As one of the persons leading the discussion, Latrae Rahming said: “If we aren’t successful (at getting the document tabled), we would’ve done one thing, at least have a conversation as to who we are and where we are so this petition has sparked a vigorous debate as to who we are and it also sheds light on the history of Christopher Columbus.”
Undoubtedly, the conversation is long overdue and as Bahamians begin to speak out in a
Facebook post, some people were more concerned about how the educational system portrays Christopher Columbus. “What’s next after the removal? Will students be taught who Christopher Columbus really was?” asked Anne Jolie.
Another concerned Bahamian citizen said the statue of Columbus is a relic of our oppression and signifies a tie to bondage and slavery. Bjorn Ferguson said its offensive, especially to people of color because Columbus was no hero to the Bahamas. Many people lament over the stories of rape, murder and the sickness and diseases bought to their ancestors at the hand of Christopher Columbus.
Furthermore, Ferguson stated that Bahamians can no longer be subservient to their colonial masters. “As we become more informed as a society, we should make informed decisions that suits our purpose and national vision. As a country, we need to stay relevant and the educational curriculum has to be in line with the current society,” he said. This statement was made to further support what must be done next, should the statue be removed.
Ferguson added that we must be responsible in our efforts to remove the statue and not to destroy it. “You cannot rewrite history, but you can teach it. Symbolic statues should reflect something Bahamians can relate to. For example, Sir Milo Butler or Sir Lynden Pindling who was the first Prime Minister of the Bahamas and the four marines who were killed in May 1980 from the
Furthermore, Ferguson stated that Bahamians can no longer be subservient to their colonial masters. “As we become more informed as a society, we should make informed decisions that suit our purpose and national vision. As a country, we need to stay relevant and the educational curriculum has to be in line with the current society,” he said. This statement was made to further support what must be done next, should the statue be removed.
Ria Thompson also took to social media on Facebook and said: “I think the statue should be
moved and placed in a museum. We no longer even call October 12 th discovery day. So, I see no reason why it cannot be removed.” The voices of the citizens are echoing as many call out for this statue among others to be removed. Some Bahamians went as far to call for the Queen’s statue to be taken away along with Columbus.
As controversial as this conversation can be, it is important to note all Bahamians do not share the same views. Some still praise Columbus for ridding the islands of the Lucayans. Others stand against radicalism and instead redirected the focus on more prevalent issues such as the billions of dollars borrowed by the FNM government under the disguise of COVID 19, the Chinese influx and the serial sweet hearting culture of the Bahamas.