NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Communications Director Latrae Rahming yesterday confirmed the Christopher Columbus statue at Government House has been placed in storage at the Ministry of Works until a determination is made on its future usage.
Rahming confirmed the move in a post on social media yesterday.
“As a matter of confirmation, the Christopher Columbus statue has been removed from Government House,” read a tweet from Rahming.
“It was an organized effort by the Government House, the Ministry of Works, and the Bahamas Antiquities Monuments and Museums Corporation (AMMC).”
The statue’s removal follows its partial destruction just over a year ago that renewed public discourse over its colonial symbolism.
In early October 2021, a man who referred to himself as “Michael the Archangel” used a sledgehammer to damage the right leg of the statue while shouting at the figure: “You destroyed this land; I’ve come to take this [expletive] back.”
The act came two days before National Heroes Day, a holiday dedicated to honoring Bahamian national heroes that was established in 2013, replacing Columbus Day or Discovery Day.
There have been increasing calls for an anti-colonial movement aimed at the liberation of cultural identity and Bahamian icons, and the removal of colonial representations in Bahamian society, including on the nation’s currency and statues in historically significant locations.
At the time, then-University of The Bahamas (UB) history professor Dr Christopher Curry said the act represented what “a lot of people couldn’t voice or express”.
Curry acknowledged the damage to government property could not be condoned.
However, he noted it was a catalyst for a much wider conversation about complacency to enact legislation that would allow for monuments and reminders of The Bahamas’ colonial past to be transferred to a dedicated location such as a museum; the lack of Bahamian figures in strategic locations; and the absence of a national heroes park.
Curry currently serves as director of the AMMC.
In 2020, a petition to remove the Columbus statue garnered more than 3,500 signatories.
The petition was backed by Rahming, who joined a group of people who held a press conference to call for the statue to be removed from Government House.