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Jan 3, 2008

Sculptor says no money, no bust…

Story PictureIt was a story that sort of appeared out of nowhere, involving the always intriguing elements of art, money and politics. And while it’s sometimes hard to figure out who’s playing whom, the battle of the Bust continues. News Five’s Marion Ali has an update.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The fiasco over the bust of Philip Goldson may soon come to an end – but only as soon as the piece of work is paid for. The man who sculpted the statue, Stephen Okeke, says he would be satisfied with wherever Central Government or the City Council decides to put it, once he gets paid for it. Okeke said he has spent around eighty thousand dollars on the five year old project, with seventy-five thousand of it coming directly from his pocket.

Stephen Okeke, sculptor, Philip Goldson bust
“I’ve made suggestion already on where I’d want it to be after so many years of study of the location, but the Belizean people have the final decision. However, that will not happen until it’s procured.”

But Belize City Mayor, Zenaida Moya, has her own ideas of where the bust should be permanently placed.

Zenaida Moya, Mayor, Belize City
“At this flag monument, this is where we hoist the Belize flag along with the other flags. We have the scouts who come in and hoist the flags and it’s a very respectful place and I think for such an honourable patriot this is a very appropriate place and significant place where we can place the bust at.”

Marion Ali
“You have people who will argue that the most appropriate and significant place would be the historic Albert Division where he ran and not only ran, but dominated in politics.”

Zenaida Moya
“Persons have their opinions noh, but what I can say is that I believe people throughout the country would not want that we only single out Albert Division to place and to really corner Mr. Goldson in. Mr. Goldson was a national hero and to simply say okay, he was part of Albert Division so mek we lef ah dah Albert Division, no, no, no … Mr. Goldson was more than Albert Division, with all due respect to all those who are still within the Albert Division.”

And for those who had concerns that the heavy traffic at the round-about would cancel out the potential effectiveness the piece of work would have on the public, Mayor Moya says the current location also creates traffic hazards.

Zenaida Moya,
“If they want to place it at that very trafficked location right in front of the Commercial Centre where pretty much the traffic there is always gridlocked, I think there’s reason to say also that that area would not be appropriate simply because the area is very narrow and even to have a parking spot there is so problematic that it would pose some challenges as well, so the same could be said for that.”

Okeke said he never imagined there would be so much controversy over the bust and his reason for embarking on the project in the first place was his genuine interest to educate the youths and to etch a reminder among older folk about who Philip Goldson was.

Stephen Okeke
“Belizeans who have put in the extra mile, it will help these young people to find what to form themselves into, images to form themselves into; that’s why I started this project.”

Marion Ali
“We’ve also heard people who knew Mr. Goldson very well say the monument does not resemble him at all.”

Stephen Okeke
“Well I have a picture of Mr. Goldson I got from Ms. Emma and I got some campaign pictures also. I think some of them are looking at it from when he was very young, they’re not looking at it from when he was set, so they could only just take a picture of him and put side by side with the sculpture and they will see it’s good. However, I have no problem with people critiquing the sculpture because somebody can say you’re beautiful or handsome, except they were admiring you. If somebody says you are not handsome, it’s because the guy is admiring you. An artist, it would be a very bad thing for an artist to have his work in public and people ignore it.”

Aside from the Goldson bust, Okeke has also completed some high profile sculptures.

Stephen Okeke
“I had also met with Mr. Price and I liked the way he did his own things. He was forceful in his own way, he was honourable in his own way, and he was very philosophical. So I said I would start with these two people and then I would go on to the lady that was the first Governor General and then there were other Belizeans I had been told about which I thought they should be represented publicly, because out of sight is out of mind. A picture is worth a thousand words and a sculpture is worth ten thousand words; that was my intention. And I had to start from somewhere, so I decided to start with Mr. Price and Mr. Goldson. But then I had funding for Mr. Price very fast, so I had to complete that and as soon as I completed that I continued that of Mr. Goldson.”

But while Okeke and the Council have their own ideas of where the bust is best placed, it may not be in public viewing at all in the next few days. That’s because Okeke says if no one pays for the sculpture by January tenth, he will take it home. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

Okeke says he has a complete record of those people who have contributed towards his project over the past five years.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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