Wed | Dec 13, 2017

Consult to avoid another Garvey bust controversy - UWI prof

Published:Tuesday | June 27, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Professor Rupert Lewis
The bust of Marcus Garvey at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus.
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Though in agreement with the move by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to remove the controversial bust of National Hero Marcus Garvey, retired Professor Rupert Lewis has declared that replacing the 'likeness' should not be the focus of at present time.

"Our focus should be centred on the creation of programmes within the UWI that can tackle the development problems of Africa and the Caribbean in the 21st century," Lewis told The Gleaner.

A political scientist, Lewis has published extensively on Marcus Garvey's activities in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

He argued that the unveiling of the Garvey bust saw a partnership being forged between the Lagos University and the UWI, Mona.

"The principal of the UWI and the vice-chancellor of the University of Lagos unveiled the bust, and that was symbolic not just because there was a bust on the campus, but because there was a collaboration between a Nigerian university and the UWI."

 

PUBLIC EXPECTATION

 

However, even while Lewis made those observations, he said that the bust should be removed, as the work did not meet the expectations of the public.

"It was very different from the images that we've seen in documentaries, and people want their hero or heroine to be seen in their best light, so to speak," he said.

Noting the significance of a Garvey bust, Lewis says consultation among the university and wider community must take place to avoid a reoccurrence.

"The question of what is to replace it should be part of a discussion with the wider community and within the university," he asserted.

Since its unveiling, various persons have voiced their opinions, and one pan-Africanist Kabu Ma'at Kheru launched a petition in an effort to have the bust removed. On Sunday, a group of livid Rastafarian protesters voiced their displeasure in Papine, in proximity to the university.

Meanwhile, the UWI says it will remove the controversial bust. Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the the UWI, Professor Waibinte Wariboko, told Radio Jamaica on Sunday that work was ongoing to erect a new bust before the start of the next academic year.

The bust was unveiled at the institution last month.

- Myesha Broadie