Preserving our past and our heroes
It was during a casual conversation with some friends and associates about the state of West Indies cricket that it was brought to my attention that our country Dominica had no statues representing the great heroes who contributed beyond the call of duty to our beloved country.
In fact the conversation revealed the only what is described as a representation of Rawle at the Goodwill roundabout close to where we sat and a nameless Negre Maroon blowing a conch shell near the Fort Young Hotel.
My mind drifted to a poem written by Julius Lewis aka Sprinter who lamented that many graves and no, not one named after a Negro slave. I also reminisce on the cenotaph monument, adjacent to the Peebles Park, which pays respect to some of the service men who defended this country during the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Yes, we do have highways, schools and even stands in the Windsor Park Sports stadium named after some greats in politics and sports but we have stopped short of a life-like statue which would draw attention and impact on the inquiring minds of our youth.
Probably it's the cost or unavailability of such local artisans to do a better job than what stands on Federation Drive in Goodwill, but I tend to believe it has more to do with a lack of pride.
I have supported, for instance, a call by Wadix a decade ago to see how the state could acquire the Vena's property, formally the home of Dominican-born famous "British" author Jean Rhys, and convert the building to a museum in her honour where films and books depicting her life could be immortalized. A section could even house our Cadence music and its development through photographs, albums of our scores of groups and icons as Jeff, Chubby, Ophelia and Gordon. It could also be a well- placed tourist attraction in the city.
Just as there is merit in preserving and telling the stories of Europeans who fought at the Cabrits and Rodney's Rock, there is also merit in doing the same for our heroes who have passed on or who are alive.
For example, are we saying that the man who designed our flag, who was a cultural guru at UNESCO, have graced our stages with classic plays and who was the first Chief Cultural officer in the person of Dr. Alwin Bully does not deserve a Brusque just as Sir Gary Sobers has in Barbados. Well we are not even going there because Bajans really honour and respect their heroes as is evident by the number of life-like representations made all over that country.
In our country we have to first to consider whether it is politically correct, whether the timing is right and would not have implications for elections or whether that individual supports a ruling party. These considerations are paramount more than the impact the individual has or had on the country.
Almost every Caribbean country acknowledges the importance of building statues of eminent individuals- except Dominica. Another such person who comes to mind is Cissy Cauderion, the mother of our culture. There are many more which could be considered but I will leave that to your imagination as my articles are slanted towards art and culture.
Wouldn't it be nice for a toddler or a young person to pass by one of these monuments and ask "Mamie, what is this?" giving rise to a history lesson and instilling at the same time, national pride?
If the Egyptians did not create statues and preserve them do we know that half of the history of mankind would be lost? We would know very little of the pharaohs and Dr Lennox Honnychurch may want to agree because he has studied the life-like monuments preserved by the Aztecs, Incas and various Amerindians. The past of many races and cultures were captured through hieroglyphics and statues which enable modern man to tell their story…their history. If Calypso CDs and various music recording are not preserved or Dr. Honychurch's book "Dominican story" was not published, how else do we seek to physically capture our heroes and our past?