The face that for more than fifty years had been our nation’s most easily recognized is now a featureless blob of washed-out colors and grime, streaked with dirt”.
Taken from the article “How We Love The Land That Gave Us Birth”, this was Rick Wayne’s descriptive perception of the one commemorative representation (besides the John Compton Highway) that seeks to depict the contributions of the late, great Sir John Compton: the mural at Hospital Road. Wayne, like many other concerned Saint Lucians is saddened by this fact and laid out his cards on this issue in the above-mentioned article.
This is certainly about to change, as preparations are being made to have a monument of ‘the father of the nation’ erected, which would pay homage to arguably the greatest politician to grace Saint Lucia’s shores.
The government of Saint Lucia had over the past few years been discussing and proposing different initiatives, which would be suitable for a figure of the stature of Sir John. Among those were the statue or “monument”, which by the way had been constructed by the acclaimed artist/sculptor Ricky George over two years ago. George is also credited with creating the Errol Barrow monument in Barbados, erected in 2007.
Truth be told, the monument has been a political football of sorts. And while the powers that be played left of center with the completed statue, it lay in a box that eventually rotted away after two years.
The STAR posed the question to Darrel Montrope, who is the Cabinet Secretary, as to why it took so long for the erection of the Sir John Compton monument.
“The Sir John monument has been completed for two years now.So there was obviously the need once it was constructed to have it erected. Of course the issue
as to its location and or even
date of unveiling needed to be determined. We considered several options as to where it could possibly be located, whether at the John Compton Roundabout, whether in Micoud, the Boulevard, or Constitution Park. Different persons had different view points, of course the family’s view also had to matter.”
The monument will finally be placed at Constitution Park which will also be given a facelift by the CCC which hopefully change it from a “destitution park.”
It is more than appropriate to situate the statue at Constitution Park, as Sir John is the epitome of our country’s constitution, with his
tireless contribution to Saint Lucia gaining its independence. Also galvanizing the fact that this
is the ideal site for the monument is that the image portrayed is of Sir John on that proud night of February 22, 1979, lifting the constitution in his right hand and waving it to the crowd of onlookers.
Montrope commented: “Constitution Park is in some ways fitting for the Sir John Compton monument, as well as the timing. Independence 35 is coming; Sir John led the country to independence and in fact this is what independence really is, the constitution.”
He went on: “We are now self-governed and this is what the monument depicts, Sir John holding the constitution
in his hand. So constitution park becomes all the more apropos for its location, hence the reason we’re trying to get it done for that time”
The STAR asked Montrope whether or not there would be some sort of educational guide placed next to the monument, for the younger generation, visitors and those who may exhibit genuine interest in acquiring knowledge on Compton.
“I don’t know how much of an educational guide the monument will include. Among the earlier discussions we had even with the family was that they wanted people to walk up and read about Sir John. And that is important,” the Cabinet Secretary says. Apparently, most public monuments of the same nature do not have a full biography.
“While we want people to engage with the monument, you have to also be very careful about how it is presented. You wouldn’t want persons coming too close to vandalize the monument, so we have to be mindful of that,” Montrope adds.
The STAR was also curious to find out what exactly would be put in place to prevent any occurrence of vandalisim.
“The statue will be open, however one of the concepts is to place some sort of border around the monument so that people would be unable to vandalize it. But I mean
if we had to resort to barricades around a monument, what exactly is that saying about us?” Montrope asked.
“While there is the celebration of Sir John, his memory and his contribution, it’s also about celebrating art because there’s an artistic endeavor in all of this, and we are to learn how to celebrate art. If we have to consider putting in place any sort of barrier it would prevent that kind of ‘interaction,’” Montrope explained.
The STAR was interested in the new plans for the configuration of the park, as Montrope had mentioned at an earlier press conference that the area would be transformed.
“In terms of the amount of work that has to be done at that park, the park will not be perfect by February. The initial thinking was ‘let’s get the monument in there’. But when you consider it, you can’t unveil the monument with the area in that condition. So we had to do something else to upgrade it. And right now we have the Baron de Marquis (statue) there,” Montrope said.
The question facing the government right now is should both be in that same spot or should the Baron’s be shifted to place emphasis on Sir John’s.
“This could be done in another phase but it definitely won’t happen before February,” Montrope confirmed.
And so the nation waits with baited breath for the unveiling of the Sir John Compton monument in February.
Meanwhile as Sir John’s daughter, Nina Compton, cooks up a storm on the international scene on the BRAVO TV show Top Chef, local authorities are again slow at responding to this immense talent making waves in the big wide world, who could do something positive for the island’s image.
Now there’s some food for thought for the Cabinet Secretary, the Prime Minister and the ministers of Education, Tourism and Culture.