09 February 2009

Sally Bassett Statue

Tonight I was able to spend a brief time at the dedication of the Sally Bassett statue at the Cabinet Office. It was a nice ceremony, if a bit cold outside: African drumming, a blessing, singing, a reading from a play about Sally Bassett, speech from the Governor, Jennifer Smith, etc.  Not many whites.

I am still trying to figure out exactly the Governor's speech. He gave three examples of memorials around the world that were not exactly welcomed in their location.  His first example was perhaps the most controversial: the Blood River memorial in South Africa, erected by the South Africans to commemorate the Boer victory against the Zulus. It was thought that with the end of apartheid and the change in government, that memorial would be removed but apparently it still stands, although it is not pleasant to all.  I suppose then the Governor's words were not that complicated: sometimes we need to remember things that are not pleasant to us.

At the same time, I have to agree with other commentators that there are many other statues that could have been erected that would draw support from whites as well.  We ought to have the Sally Bassett statue, but perhaps we can have one about the end of slavery as well. In my view although this government and many of their supporters are correct when they say that "whites" need to face up some unpleasant facts of Bermuda's past, I think they ought to throw some carrot in with the stick... 

We can look forward to another sculpture this year, commemorating the Theatre Boycott. This one was commissioned by the Corporation of Hamilton, and is due to be unveiled sometime this year (which was one reason the Corporation could not accept the Sally Bassett statue for City Hall).

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