A push to remove monuments reflecting unsavoury aspects this country’s colonial past is being met with opposition as Moruga villagers are against the Christopher Columbus statue in the capital city be taken down.
Standing just metres from the sea on the Moruga shoreline is the Christopher Columbus memorial which is now a symbolic reminder of Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial legacy.
For Eric Lewis, the man who cemented the explorer’s place in the village eight years ago, the statue is far from a subject of tension which similar monuments have now become.
“For the 500th anniversary of the European’s encounter with Trinidad, the people asked that a statue of Columbus be erected not just as a monument but a landmark. Behind us is the Columbus channel so are we going to rename that too,” he said.
Lewis who is also a member of Moruga’s First People said he disagreed with the renewed calls to have monuments linked to T&T’s colonial past removed.
Recently, the Columbus statue in Port-of-Spain was vandalized.
“What I don’t like though is some of it is emanating out of racist comments and I myself am mixed. And I stand on the ground of who I am and many of us are mixed. So, were it not for Columbus what would Trinidad and Tobago be?”
The Moruga Columbus monument also resonates deeply with villagers who see beyond a colonial symbol.
“I believe Columbus should stay and be maintained,” said 69-year-old Alvin Boland.
Another resident noted, “I find the statue should remain, it is a symbol for the community. It comes like a landmark for the area.”
Unlike the Warao queen’s call to have the Port-of-Spain’s Columbus monument removed, 101-year-old Moruga chief Paul Navarro believed otherwise.
“It is not an obstacle in their way. They go their way and leave that standing there. I wish I was there by it.”
Meanwhile, Lewis questioned how removing a statue would undo the injustices meted out to T&T’s ancestors. He said what was needed was a change in mindset, shifting from the rooted racism some carry within them, to thoughts of unity and togetherness.