The Problem With Columbus

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By Alicia Chamely


I got called a dimwit this week.

Well actually I got called a leftist supporter of communism, who was hoodwinked by the far left controlled Westernised media and received my education off of the back of a cereal box.

It was a bit harsh, but also quite amusing considering it came from some random on the internet who felt the best way to get his ultra-intellectual view across was to resort to non-verifiable claims, self-praise and name slinging. I am also pretty certain this self-proclaimed genius hides behind a fake profile.

So what caused this persons tirade against me? I simply disagreed with his reply to a post on the removal of a statue of Leopold II in Belgium. I thought it should be removed, he apparently felt it shouldn’t because that’s what the leftist liberal forces want.

For those who may not know, Leopold, independent of his role of King of Belgium, took it upon himself to pull up in Africa and declare himself the Sovereign of the Congo Free State. He enslaved the population, drained them of natural resources, created warfare amongst the tribes and brutalised the people of the Congo.

His favourite thing to do was remove the hands of villagers who failed to meet his unrealistic quota of rubber sap collection.

His actions spawned the term “crimes against humanity.”

Homie was really awful and I could imagine how enraged and insulted every Belgian of African heritage must feel knowing he was immortalised as some sort of hero.

This brings me to the current controversy of Christopher Columbus and the calls to have his statue in Port-of-Spain removed.

I’ve heard people saying the call to have it removed is just a copycat move in relation as to what is happening in the US and parts of Europe. In reality the calls for the removal of the Columbus statue are not new. Every few years the issue is bought up, especially by our Amerindian brothers and sisters.

To understand the problem of the Columbus statue and all other statues of historical figures with murderous pasts, is to understand the symbolism of having a monument dedicated to them.

Being immortalised as a statue to be put on public display is one of the greatest honours bestowed onto anyone. The statue is meant to remind us of the positive contributions to our nation by this person.

It can be argued that without Columbus none of us would exist and it cannot be denied the man had testicular fortitude. I mean who in their right mind jumps in a boat and sails blindly hoping to find the east, especially in a time when the flat-earth theory was accepted by many.

However, Columbus was also a bit of a dick and other than landing on our shores, his contributions weren’t particularly praise worthy.

Columbus rolled in, declared the native Amerindian tribes grossly uncivilised compared to his European greatness. He decided these savages were far inferior to him and therefore must be tamed…for his benefit. So they were enslaved, abused, stripped of their humanity and systematically murdered. Essentially, Columbus and his cronies committed genocide.

His crimes and they were crimes, against the Amerindian population were just the start. Columbus essentially brought forth the horrors of colonialism, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and the sham of indentured labour. The trauma of this is still felt today.

So having a national monument dedicated to a man, who discovered TT, but essentially did nothing exceptionally positive is ridiculous. We know better now, we aren’t under colonial rule anymore.

I am not advocating we cut Columbus out of our history; all I am saying is that we don’t need a statue of Columbus perched in our nation’s capital. His part in our history should still be taught, he should still be recognised for his discovery and naming our nation.

Put the statue in the National Museum; let him still hold a place in our history.

For those who still may not get it, let’s use the statue of one of our greatest national icons in St James in a wildly imaginative hypothetical situation. Imagine this amazing calypsonian, who slayed the stage both locally and internationally, was a mass murderer. He loved murder! Murder was his favourite pastime and he terrorised the people of TT for years.

Would we still want him immortalised? Negative.

He can still be remembered for amazing cultural contributions, but due to his hobbies we wouldn’t really want his face glaring on us all the time.

While this isn’t the best comparison, you can kind of see where I am coming from regarding the removal of statues of certain historical figures, such as Columbus.

People seem to think the fight to have these statues removed is frivolous considering we have so much other pressing issues.

However in the context of our national identity this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is something that is seen of priority to those of Amerindian decent in our society, who suffered under the legacy of Columbus.

Therefore as a member of the national community, I understand their calls and respect them.

So back to the man that called me a dimwit, thank you for providing me with inspiration this week. Also, chill out dude. Get a hobby that doesn’t include fake profiles, the illuminati and being rude. Xoxo



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