Saturday, September 30, 2023

Lots of Bahamians are Angry with Christopher Columbus

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The discussion of Christopher Columbus’ has been reignited in the daily discourse following the destruction of the statue at Government House on Mt Fritzwilliam on Saturday.

The actions of the suspect who seems deranged, have stirred angry emotions toward Columbus and have garnered social media support.

Since 1492, Columbus was hailed as the discoverer of the Bahamas and the new world. He has been hailed a hero and still plays an integral part in the Social Studies program in our educational system.

More than 500 years later, some people have shifted focus to the atrocities Columbus inflicted on the native Bahamians, identified as the Lucayans who were eventually decimated from our islands.

Bahamians like Father Sebastian Campbell have led the way to abolish the memory of Columbus from our national holidays and remove any replicas from our public sphere.

Anger toward colonialists like Columbus increased after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States when the issue of racism arose, as statues that symbolized slavery and racism were torn down in some countries around the world, while some were removed by governments.

Though some people signed petitions for the Bahamas government to remove Columbus from Mt Fritzwilliam, there was never any lawless act to attempt to destroy it, until the man who identified himself as Michael the Arch Angel, drew a sledgehammer and extricated the arm and foot of the Columbus statue.

Some social media posters erupted in applause.

Fringe groups like the third party Coalition of Independents looking to be included in the national discourse said it will provide bail and a lawyer for the suspect accused of damage to government property.

It remains to be seen if the government will remove statues of colonialism like Christopher Columbus.  Last year, a strong supporter of the PLP Latrae Rahming who now works in the office of the Press Secretary said his party always advocated for the statue’s removal and the quest for removal was supported by Party Chairman Fred Mitchell.

However, newly appointed Prime Minister Philip Davis told the Nassau Guardian on Tuesday that his government will determine whether the statue will be repaired or replaced, while emphasizing that he is “concerned when I see acts of disobedience that result in the destruction of public property.”

If we begin with Columbus, where do we end? Our country has a colonial past. Our history is colonialism and slavery. How far do we go?

We should use them as reminders as to how far we have come and place them in the proper context of the period in which they lived.

Historian Gail Saunders agrees that it is a complex issue saying only that Columbus’ statue should be in place to remember the Lucayans who were here before his arrival.

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