Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Bagan was no Bogle ...Product of a romance between a preacher and his outside woman

Published:Tuesday | June 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams
One of Paul Bogle's descendants, 76-year-old Austin Hoffman of Spring Garden, St Thomas.
Ainsley Henriques, chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, said the statue of Paul Bogle will be remounted in front of the restored Morant Bay Courthouse.
Patricia Bogle, widow of Phillip 'Bagan' Bogle.
Phillip 'Bagan' Bogle's tomb in the Paul Bogle Memorial Park at Stony Gut.

When Edna Manley was commissioned to do a statue of Paul Bogle in 1962, it was said she wanted a Bogle relative, whose image would depict the strength and spirit of Paul Bogle.

But the popular anecdote is that people with the Bogle surname were not proud of it because it was vilified. Paul Bogle was said to be the "Devil incarnate". And many parishioners blamed him for the 'curse' of the parish.

So when Edna Manley entered the community of Dumfries, St Thomas, asking for Bagan, people were reticent, until she told them what she was up to. Phillip 'Bagan' Bogle was the relative who volunteered to be the model for Paul Bogle.

When Manley met him, Bagan, the farmer, was on his way from work with his machete. It was customary to hold the machete in a particular way when strangers met, and so he held it with his two hands at his chest, machete pointing down.

Bagan was eventually taken to Kingston to pose for Manley. After the statue was unveiled in 1965 there was great uproar and derision that Bagan, the "black, ugly, feisty, bare-footed" farmer should get a statue, more so representing National Hero Paul Bogle. But who really was Bagan?

Bagan was a solidly built, muscular man, who was said to be proud, and fearless. He got some money for modelling Paul Bogle. The first television set in his community, and a car, were said to be bought with some of the money. And Bagan basked in the glory of having a statue mounted of him, while others wanted it removed.

He was married twice, bearing two children from the first wedding. His second wife, Patricia Bogle, still lives at Dumfries, and recently The Gleaner met with her in Morant Bay to talk about Bagan, who was born in 1913. Patricia was much younger than Bagan.

Bagan's ancestors

Patricia Bogle said Bagan always spoke about his ancestors, especially his grandmother, Cecelia, all the time, and said that he was Paul Bogle's grandson, being the son of Paul Bogle's daughter Amanda.

But much research, oral and documentary, has come up with contradictions, some of them glaring. No one has ever heard of Paul Bogle having a daughter named Amanda. Moreover, Cecelia was not Bogle's grandmother, but his daughter.

And Bagan could not have descended from Paul Bogle's William, who was killed in the massacre following the Morant Bay uprising.

But a recent trip to Spring Garden, St Thomas, where Paul Bogle had a house, to speak with Austin Hoffman, Paul Bogle's grandnephew has put much light on Bagan's identity situation. Seventy-six-year-old Hoffman said he knew Bagan personally.

"Bagan was a fierce man, him couldn't read, but him a no fool," Hoffman said, "A summady wheh mi talk to, him look like the statue." In fact, he said Bagan harboured an intense hatred for his (Hoffman's) mother, and he didn't understand why. The matter rested on his mind, and he asked and was given a reason why.

Hoffman, Bagan's nephew

But it turns out that Bagan was much more than someone whom Hoffman knows casually. Hoffman is Bagan's nephew, Bagan's mother's half-brother. "None a mi uncle dem a Bogle," Hoffman said.

Hoffman's maternal grandmother, Maud Bogle, was Paul Bogle's sister. Maud was married to a preacher man named Clarke. "He was a preacher man, same like Paul Bogle, and him go get a woman pregnant ... . It was a disgrace," Hoffman recalled.

The preacher man took the child home to his wife, Maud, who gave him her Bogle surname. Bagan then is, in fact Clarke, and one of his siblings was Indiana Clarke, Hoffman's mother. "A mi grandmother grow de bwoy, a dat's why him name Bogle, but him was not a Bogle," Hoffman affirmed, discrediting all the other stories of Bagan's lineage.

Could it be then that Amanda was actually Bagan's mother, the woman whom preacher man Clarke got pregnant?

Hoffman migrated to England in 1960, so he wasn't around when the statute was unveiled by Edward Seaga in 1965. He is a returned resident and is livid that all the real Bogles allowed Bagan to go forward as a Bogle to pose for the statue.

After a long battle with prostate cancer, Bagan died in 1995 and his remains are in the Paul Bogle Memorial Park at Stony Gut. Phillip 'Bagan' Bogle is inscribed on his tombstone.