Latrae Rahming speaking in front of the statue of Columbus.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
REVEREND Sebastian Campbell says Bahamians are too docile and should march to force the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue in front of Government House.
He spoke to reporters yesterday after Progressive Liberal Party supporters announced at a press conference that they will try to get a petition for the removal of the statue tabled in the House of Assembly. The petition had 8,750 signatures up to press time.
Christopher Columbus statues have been targeted for removal or destruction by protestors in the wake of the controversial killing of American George Floyd in Minneapolis last month as people across the world protest systemic racism.
Father Campbell said: “Maybe this an ideal time for Bahamians to have their protest and bring this to the forefront. This an ideal time, Bahamians are too docile and too laidback, we need to march and probably have this as the centerpiece of our march and educate, educate, educate. The real story of Columbus has not been told. A lot of lies have been told about Columbus in our schools and therefore we venerate him as some kind of hero.
“Bahamians need to be more radical, we’re not radical enough. We only get radical when it comes to our money, that’s when we ready to march and turn the town down. I think (marching for removing the statue) is setting us on a more intellectual course where we can think more intellectually about what this represents and liberate our minds from where we are to where we ought to be and uplift those Bahamian heroes in our society today.
Father Campbell noted that he was on the national heroes committee 25 years ago that called for the removal of the Christopher Columbus statue. The committee’s campaign resulted in the government replacing a Discovery Day holiday with a National Heroes Day holiday.
“Because Columbus is just posing here the way he’s posing, our children, generations unborn, will immediately think of him as some hero, as somebody with some positive work and that is unfortunate and in this era of an independent Bahamas we need to look at those heroes, those nation builders, those legends, such as Sir Milo Butler, Lynden Pindling, Cecil Wallace, Dame Doris Johnson, the list goes on, to somehow find a way to venerate these persons,” he said. “Look and see what we did with Milo for example in Rawson Square, just a little bus we have of Milo sitting opposite the Victoria statue then we come here and we have this imposing life size statue of Christopher Columbus.”
Latrae Rahming, a prominent PLP supporter, said talks have began with parliamentarians who are prepared to table the petition for the statue’s removal in Parliament. The petition was started by Craig Woodside.
“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,” he said.
He added that while the statue should be removed, it should not be destroyed.
“I leave it in the hands of the historians and government officials to find what is the rightful place of Columbus,” he said.
He also discouraged a protest movement that seeks to remove the Columbus statue without the support of authorities.
“I think our democracy gives us the instruments that we must use,” he said. “We must allow democracy to take its course, we must allow Parliament to accept the petition.”
Asked if the PLP would remove the statue if it regains power, he said: “I can tell you this, the members of parliament for the PLP have always advocated for the removal of the statue. I have spoken to the chairman of the PLP Mr Mitchell who said I have his support on the issue so there is support on that basis and I do intend to ask a member of the minority in Parliament to bring this petition to parliament and if a member of the government believes in this cause we will accept that as well.”