The Jamaica Observer reports that the University of the West Indies (UWI) says it will remove a controversial bust of Jamaica’s first national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, following an outcry from various sectors of the society, including members of the Rastafarian movement. As indicated in previous articles, the public was not happy with sculptor Raymond Watson’s representation of Garvey because it did not resemble him. Some described the bust as an unacceptable misrepresentation that seemed to “whitewash” the Jamaican hero. The Gleaner quotes, “(The bust) takes away his African nose, his beautiful African lips, and him nice African face, and they give him a straight face and a straight nose. We are protesting against that because we are very vexed. This is like trying to re-educate our future.”
The bust was unveiled at the institution last month and the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education at the UWI, Professor Waibinte Wariboko, confirmed that work is ongoing to erect a new bust before the start of the next academic year.
On Sunday, several members of the Rastafari community gathered near the university protesting what they said was a poor representation of Garvey, who was conferred with the Order of the National Hero in 1969.
“The idea of erecting the bust was our initiative, it wasn’t imposed by outside forces,” Professor Wariboko told the media.
He also said that “having listened to the comments from members of the public since the unveiling, we are now taking steps to ensure that the one that was unveiled is removed and replaced with another bust put in place to reflect all or nearly all of the attributes that these public commentators would love to associate with the image of Marcus Garvey as represented by the bust to be made”.
The Jamaica government has said that Garvey’s legacy can be summed up in the philosophy he taught – race pride, the need for African unity; self-reliance; the need for black people to be organised, and for rulers to govern on behalf of the working classes.