Change King's House to Paul Bogle House
This year marks 150 years since the Morant Bay Protest of 1865, and to mark the significant role National Hero Paul Bogle played in Jamaica's history, we should change from King's House to Paul Bogle House.
It is because of Bogle and his movement that a more caring colonial government was installed, with better educational provision, better amenities and disestablishment of the Anglican Church. In addition, the resulting dismantling of the British Empire can be attributed to Bogle and his protesters, aided and abetted by the Jamaica Committee formed in England, which led to the establishment of a Commonwealth of Nations, albeit Britain retains a position of first among equals with the British monarch, the titular head of the Commonwealth.
Bogle, a man of peace, walked with others for 40 miles from Stony Gut to Spanish Town to see the governor, Edward Eyre, to tell him about the deteriorating socio-economic conditions. Eyre did not give him the time of day. Bogle was not able to enter the front door. It would be hugely significant and appropriate that the similar house to which Bogle was denied access be named in his honour.
Correspondingly, George William Gordon was a member of the Jamaica Assembly where he was vilified and now the House of Parliament is named after him. That is poetic justice, and Bogle deserves no less.
Bogle, a close associate of Gordon, was born in 1820 and hanged on October 24, 1865. He was referred to as a 'Native Parson'. Bogle functioned as a pastor organising baptisms and giving oversight to congregations at Mount Zion and Sunning Hill districts. Bogle was a campaign manager for Gordon, who, having lost an election in the 1840s, was successful with Bogle's help in the early 1860s. Bogle was instrumental in getting people of African origin on the Voters' List. But for Bogle, we might not have heard about Gordon and his forays in the Jamaican Assembly.
Bogle's place in our history is not fully appreciated and is often contrasted with Gordon, who is portrayed in a positive light. Historian and playwright, Louis Marriott, in very good pieces on our national heroes, still said 'Whereas the peace-loving George William Gordon ... Bogle's stance was more aggressive tending towards confrontation' and used a pejorative word 'mob' to describe Bogle's protesters." (Gleaner, December 19, 2014).
Bogle's first march upon the Morant Bay courthouse to protest injustices in the court system produced no bloodshed. There was bloodshed in the second march after the protesters were fired upon. To engage in self-defence is neither confrontational nor aggressive; at most, we could say assertive.
exalting foreign heroes
Unfortunately, we continue to venerate foreign heroes to the exclusion of those of African origin who laid the solid foundation for our political independence and our freedom. In the 1960s, we created the office of national hero in order to develop national identity, and instil pride in Jamaicans and loyalty to Jamaica. Politicians now pledge allegiance to the people of Jamaica instead of to the Queen of England and her successors. The process is not completed because we still pray for The Queen in our Parliament, and have a Throne Speech and a King's House.
August 2015 is a good time to rename King's House as The Paul Bogle House, based on the sacrifices and achievements on behalf of Jamaica and the world by Bogle. The renaming is not only of symbolic value, but is a means of recapturing and re-appropriating the vision, spirit, wisdom and attitude of Bogle to face the challenges of our time and be a source of inspiration for action.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.