Robinson-Regis: Committee on historical monuments will show way forward

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Housing and Urban Development Minister Camille Robinson Regis.

The Cabinet-approved committee appointed to report on the placement of statues, monuments, historical signage and recognition, will show TT the way forward on naming or renaming our historical sites, said Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis on Thursday.

At a media conference at the housing ministry’s office in South Quay, Port of Spain, she said the Prime Minister has been speaking about the need to re-examine which historical figures are recognised and which historical monuments and moments should be represented.

“Dr Rowley about two years ago spoke about the need to re-examine some of the historical representations in TT, with the concerns that were being expressed about the Columbus statue and certain other statues.

“Now, as a result of those discussions, the decision was taken some time ago to put this committee in place to look at our statues, our history and what needs to be done.”

The committee will be chaired by emerita professor Bridget Brereton. Members will include Dr Eastlyn McKenzie, Zaida Rajnauth, Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, and Kobe Sandy.

Robinson-Regis expressed concern about criticisms on the appointment of the committee, described by some as a knee-jerk reaction.

“As a country grows we do see things differently. That committee that has been set up will show us the way forward.”

Several bodies have expressed concern over which historical figures have been immortalised through the naming of sites, streets, and the erection of monuments. One organisation, the Eric Williams Memorial Committee, called for government to change Woodford Square to the Eric Williams TC FNMH Square.

That committee, in a letter, said it would be a fitting tribute to the father of the nation.

“It was at a public meeting in Woodford Square in 1955 that Dr Eric Williams told those gathered that he had returned to TT, and there is where he was laying down his bucket. And it was from there on to independence on August 31, 1962, and today we have a truly developing nation 60 years after,” said Reginald Vidale, president of the committee.