After languishing for many years since its completion, the box meant to protect it rotting away, the Sir John Compton statue will finally have a resting place. The statue will be unveiled this evening at a special ceremony to mark the island’s 35 Independence Anniversary. It’s home, Constitution Park in the city centre.
The idea to honor Saint Lucia’s first Premier and Prime Minister, Sir John Compton was first mooted following his passing in 2007. In the first instance, serious discussions on the commissioning of a bust took place in 2009. Then in 2010, FirstCaribbean International Bank pledged EC$13,600 as its contribution to the creation of the monument to honour Sir John after a call had gone out by the government. Well-known Saint Lucian sculptor Ricky George was then commissioned to undertake the work at a project cost of US$442,350. Of that sum the Saint Lucian government initially allocated US$107,500 towards mobilization, with the rest to come primarily through donor contributions from the private sector and investors.
However, in the years following there was much debate as to where the monument would be placed, even whether one should be built at all. Incidentally one of those opposing the move was Sir John’s daughter Jeannine Compton who was a member of parliament at the time.
Still, plans went ahead and the corporate sector and citizens were then challenged to invest in what was seen as a fitting memorial to a man widely credited for shaping present-day Saint Lucia. At the same time, it was hoped that the memorial would fuel the country’s greater national pride and inspire other suitable public memorials in honour of Saint Lucia’s significant heroes.
Finally it was decided that a 9 ft bronze statute would be a more fitting tribute and the impressive work of art showing Sir John as the father of independence, holding the Constitution in his hand, was completed in 2011. Wrapped and boxed it has been in storage since then waiting for a home.
And now the time has come, a time that Cabinet Secretary and chair of the Independence Day committee Darryl Montrope is hoping that all Saint Lucians will join in and celebrate. “While it is a moment of pride for all of us having this statue erected in honour of the man who lead us to independence, it also speaks to a greater awareness of who we are as a people,” Montrope says.
A number of local and regional dignitaries have been invited to this evening’s unveiling ceremony which starts at 5pm. Among them, sitting and former MPs, the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy and Prime Minister Kenny Anthony who will give the unveiling remarks. There will also be remarks by Gertrude George, a Micoud constituent and longstanding member of the United Workers Party.
Special tribute will also be paid to Sir John by friend and political ally, Ira d’Auvergne. Lady Janice, wife of Sir John is also expected to address this evening’s event. For the unveiling ceremony, the William Peter Boulevard in Castries will be cordoned off and guests will be seated in the area on Laborie street facing the newly refurbished Constitution park.