A recent move by The Bahamas government to banish the statue of Christopher Columbus from government house to the back of the works ministry’s compound might well add much needed impetus to calls across the Caribbean for the retirement of symbols which represent racial discrimination against Black and brown people, imperialism and a genocidal colonial past.

Late last year, a local man of questionable sanity, damaged the statue with a sledgehammer rendering it unsightly to onlookers, hastening efforts to remove it as a symbol of something to celebrate rather than one of hate.

“As a matter of confirmation, the Christopher Columbus statue has been removed from government house. It was an organized effort by the government house, the ministry of works, and the Bahamas Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC),” said government spokesman Latrae Rahming in a weekend social media posting.

Local publication ENews.com said the statue will remain in the compound until a final decision is made by cabinet about what exactly to do with it or where it should be placed. Calling himself “Michael the Archangel,” the gentleman damaged the right leg of the statue yelling, “You destroyed this land. I’ve come to take this [expletive] back.”

The announcement is certain to galvanize efforts in a number of Caribbean countries including Trinidad, Jamaica and Antigua among others where debates have been raging about what to do with these symbols of white imperialism and oppression. The latest rounds of debates had coincided and appeared to have been sparked by global protests linked to the murder of Black American George Floyd after a white police officer had kneeled on his neck for nearly 10 minutes in the U.S.

Two years ago this month, Barbados removed the imposing bronze statue of British admiral Lord Nelson from the main square in the capital, Bridgetown as it was preparing to ditch Britain’s now late Queen Elizabeth as its head of state, appoint its own local president and become a republic like regional neighbors Guyana, Trinidad and Dominica.

Nelson, famed for his successes in high seas battles with fellow European powers like Spain and France, was an ardent defender of the slave trade, a trait that has angered Black activists who have for decades called for its removal alongside other local heroes as it was a vestige and relic of a horrid colonial past. The monument was erected back in 1813.

In Trinidad, the African Emancipation committee has been leading calls for similar action in the twin-island federation with Tobago. Successive administrations have pledged to take action but no firm decision has been made as yet even as Columbus’s statue in downtown Port of Spain, the capital, has been defaced several times.

Activists across the region have also called for the renaming of streets, state buildings, schools and other facilities which are stark reminders of the colonial era.

In Barbados which will this month celebrate its first year as a republic, there is a spirited debate in the legal fraternity as to whether most senior attorneys should now switch to being referred from queen’s to king’s counsel now that King Charles has replaced his late mother as the British monarch. In other neighboring republics, these are simply referred to as senior counsel.

The issue came up in Barbados’ court of appeal recently with several senior attorneys like Garth Patterson indicating that switching to king’s counsel rather than senior counsel would be a national and regional embarrassment as the island nation has severed such ties with Britain and the United Kingdom.

“Having a new monarch who does not represent the head of state of Barbados for us to adopt the postnominal of king’s counsel—I think it puts us in an embarrassing position. I think it sends the wrong message that despite our proclamation that we have cut our ties with the monarchy, we are still clinging to the vestiges of that monarchy. I personally have a serious difficulty in adopting that postnominal,” the Today online publication quoted Patterson as saying.

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