By Devon Dick
A COUPLE Sundays ago under the headline, 'The photo is Bogle's' (September 16), Joan Vacianna, president of the Jamaica Historical Society, said in a brief letter, "We wrote to the editor of JET and he replied, admitting that the photograph was that of Bogle and not of Jennings." This is very good news to know that the editor of JET magazine, whoever he is, is qualified to verify the photograph as that of National Hero The Rt Excellent Paul Bogle.
I am personally happy because when I wrote my book The Cross and the Machete which was distributed in 2010, I had that photograph as representing Bogle. I was not aware that there was previously a controversy about the photo otherwise I would not have used it without comment. Now we need to engage in other activities.
The Government should move to have this photograph of Bogle patented so that no one else anywhere can use this image and claim it to be that of someone else. It is the least we could do to protect a vital part of our history. The image of Bogle has been devalued. This image was once on the $2 note but now graces the 10 cent coin which might be used to toss a coin, but if dropped, is hardly picked up. The statue of Bogle has been defaced and removed from its once-prominent position in front of the historic Morant Bay courthouse, which was razed.
Therefore, let us update the narrative on Bogle's photo which is in the National Library of Jamaica's file and which says, "W.G. Ogilvie, a member of the Jamaica Historical Society, has discovered a photograph which, although it has not been absolutely authenticated, appears genuine." It should not be hard to absolutely authenticate it.
The narrative about this exciting photograph of Bogle should now be commissioned and written because it could become a great historical worth with original material. It should explain how Sir Roy Augier, a leading Caribbean historian, was aware of the existence of this photograph at the Institute of Jamaica before it morphed into being that of Bogle. The story should also relate why Edna Manley, sculptor of the Bogle statue, did not use this photograph in 1965 for the building of the statue. In addition, Dr David Boxer, a leading art historian, whose views are in the public domain, should be consulted.
Furthermore, it should show that there is no difference between this photograph and the description of him in the Colonial Standard of October 18, 1865, which states of Bogle's physical features, "a very black man, with shining skin, bearing heavy marks of smallpox on his face, and more especially on his nose; teeth good, large mouth with red, thick lips; about five feet eight inches in height, broad across the shoulders, carries himself indolently, and has no whiskers". This description was used in order to capture Bogle for the reward of £2,000.
Finally, this narrative about Bogle's photograph should explain how, after about 3,000 residents in St Thomas were killed, the homes in Stony Gut were destroyed and the chapel burnt to the ground, a picture of Bogle emerged. This is a most compelling story which is awesome. It is equally remarkable that tintype photo which was invented a few years before Bogle's death should come to Jamaica and Bogle spent the hours to take this photograph in Kingston or St Thomas.
We should thank the Jamaica Historical Society for the work they have done in getting the editor of JET magazine to verify the photograph of Bogle.
Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist in St Andrew and author of the book, 'The Cross and the Machete'. Send comments to email@example.com.