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Dec 31, 2007

Bronze bust of Philip Goldson unveiled in Belize City

Story PicturePhilip Goldson – he is a legendary Belizean statesman and patriot, and today, six years after his death, a memorial was erected in his memory. News Five’s Marion Ali reports from downtown Belize City.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The ten foot tall bust is located at the historic Mule Park beside the town clock and symbolically in the Albert Division where Goldson dominated politics since the 60’s. The project was started in 2002 by Sculptor Stephen Okeke and eighty thousand dollars later, it was finally unveiled to a crowd of onlookers. Okeke says it was a trying process, but it was worth it.

Stephen Okeke, Sculptor, Philip Goldson bust
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so a sculpture like this is worth even more you can give to the young people, so I decided to begin doing this. My intention was to represent other Belizean heroes and heroines who have done significantly in Belize in all aspects of Belizean life.”

Marion Ali
“I’m sure that you were frustrated many times, sometimes to the brink of giving up. Why didn’t you?”

Stephen Okeke
“Because I respected the man and I thought it would be insult to the intelligence of Belizeans for me to give up, because when you’re on the radio and you’re on the television it goes global by the internet. So why would I say to the world that we started this thing but then we did not see a need for it but we want our young people to change.”

The project has had the full backing of the National Institute of Culture and History, headed by its President, Yasser Musa.

Yasser Musa, President, NICH
“A public monument like this serves as a great tool and a great instrument for education. Young kids can pass with their parents and ask, who is this man? And I think as older people we need to have the answer for that. Many times we say yes, Mr. Philip is a great man, but why is he great? We need to make sure that we are very knowledgeable about this person because he is gone. This sculpture is not for Mr. Philip, this sculpture is for what he represented and what he stood for.”

Also pleased with the project’s completion is Compton Fairweather and his uncle, Carlton, who knew Goldson better than most people.

Compton Fairweather
“He knew him more than I because he travelled with him wherever he went, overseas or locally as his guide and his assistant, wherever he could be. He was his confidant.”

“I feel he’s one of the true patriots. He went to jail to try to get rid of the British and he has transcended all the political parties, including the People’s United Party, the National Independence, the Honduran Party, the P.D.M., the United Democratic Party and N.A.B.R., so he’s been through the entire spectrum. I think it’s a wonderful way to end the year.”

But whether or not the bust remains at its present location is yet to be seen. Okeke says he has gotten permission from the City Council to use the spot to permanently display the monument free of cost, but Public Relations Officer for the Council, Kenny Morgan, says that is not the case.

Kenny Morgan
“There are protocols to follow for persons wishing to utilise the city streets. That entails applying to the City Council for permission, paying a fee for use of the streets, and in special events where persons believe they warrant waiver of the fees you can apply in writing to the Mayor who is the only person authorised to waive any fees for use of the streets, so that can be worked out easily.”

Marion Ali
“That wasn’t done in this case?”

Kenny Morgan
“As far as we know Mr. Okeke presented to the City Council on Friday a request for use of the streets. That request was granted pending payment of the applicable fees.”

“As big a hero as Philip Goldson is, as prominent as he was in our past and will always be, the measure of the work that he put in on behalf of the country and people of Belize, is this in the Market Square near the Mule Park the most respectful and most prominent position we can find for such a hero?”

The bust is four feet tall and is mounted on a six-foot high pedestal. It weighs over a thousand pounds and is four times life size. Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

When he died in 2001, the late Philip Goldson was seventy-eight years old. According to NICH president, Yasser Musa, the agency will upkeep the sculpture but appeals to people to respect the work of art and not deface or damage it.

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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