Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Editorial | Site Bolt statue for all to see

Published:Saturday | August 13, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Usain Bolt is arguably one of the most famous athletes to walk this earth. Usain Bolt's achievements on the track have brought glory to our island nation, while thrilling sports lovers from everywhere. Now into his third Olympics, with hopes of achieving more glory, there is as yet no national monument erected to honour and celebrate this famous Jamaican.

Bolt's athletic exploits are celebrated in practical ways by many countries in the world. For example, Germany has used a chunk of the Berlin Wall to build a monument to our famous son and it is housed at the Up Park Camp museum in Kingston. And in Barbados, the Cave Hill campus has named its sport complex in his honour. Bolt's characteristic 'To the World' pose is copied by everyone, from presidents to work crews all over the world. He is a great unifying force. And he is ours.

His statute and image can be seen in various countries as they pay homage to his greatness. Recently, Mayor Garth Wilkinson of Falmouth, capital of the parish in which Bolt was born, announced that Bolt's statue was now complete.

 

IDEAL LOCATION

 

The question before the nation was where to place this statute. Sadly, it is typical of Jamaica to have official announcements that stoke controversy because people are not in agreement with the decisions made by officialdom. There is now a raging debate in Trelawny and in the diaspora about the most suitable site for the statue of this giant of a man.

It seems that a decision has already been made to place it at the Falmouth Pier, where it would be on display for the exclusive enjoyment of visitors but shut away from the prying eyes of the natives who have no real access to the port except through guided tours. This would be a mistake and an insult to the people of Jamaica.

There is a clamour for the statue to be placed in historic Water Square in Falmouth or at his birthplace in Sherwood Content. Water Square, surrounded by garbage and debris, is today a shadow of its former self. Some argue that if the statue were placed there, it could jolt the authorities into cleaning up the area and help to create an oasis in the centre of the town. In any event, the overwhelming view is that the statue needs to be placed where it can be seen by all and be an inspiration to young Jamaicans who dare to dream of accomplishing greatness.

Mayor Wilkinson also announced plans to rename the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium in honour of Bolt. This facility has been sitting in Trelawny as a testament to poor, irrational decisions. The multimillion-dollar stadium was designed and erected for Cricket World Cup in 2007. Since then, a few events have been held there, but, by and large, it has been home to ruminants at a hefty upkeep and maintenance cost to the people of Jamaica. It would be disrespectful to Usain Bolt, as one who epitomises excellence, for this virtual white elephant to bear his name. Instead, the Government should staunch the waste of public funds to foot the enormous security and maintenance bill and lease the property to any of the institutions that have indicated an interest in using it. Then it could be named in his honour.

On August 21, Bolt turns 30, and this could be his last Olympic Games. Let's seize the moment and get on with the job by making an informed decision and have the statue of this larger-than-life figure mounted at a suitable place so that the world can see that he is not without honour in the land of his birth.

This is an opportunity to unite a small, proud nation in loyalty and pride. We should not let it pass.