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Discovering the past

This bronze chair emblazoned with the name of Mary Prince is one of 12 that forms a new piece of artwork called ‘The Jurors’ in England

Dear Sir,

I write in response to the September 24 Royal Gazette editorial titled “Largely unknown history of Mary Prince”.

Before going to the meat in the article, I don’t know if I would use the same term, narcissism, as used by the editor to describe focusing on the present or, as he put it, the now.

Unless, of course, such focus on the now is so intense that it prevents any reflections of the past and that one also becomes oblivious of the consequences that our living in the now has on the future.

Otherwise there is no harm in being dynamic and fully present, giving the optimum of energy to deal will current affairs. We need to be dynamic and do the things we need to do and do them now.

The debate, ushered by a memorial erected in the same grounds where the Magna Carta was signed for Mary Prince and her effect on the abolitionist movement in England in the early to mid-19th century, as the editor makes his case, is highlighted by our lack of knowledge of her, while others in distant lands can celebrate the efficacy of her heroism.

As much as I love history, I have to confess that when we chose Mary Prince posthumously as a national hero, I wasn’t quite sure of her history or the truth of her existence.

Not to say I doubted whether such a person actually lived, but I did not know whether the storyline was authentic or partly fiction produced by the abolishionists to drive home the severity of slavery.

Not to suggest those horrors could not happen in Bermuda, but whether these were true acts happening also to others but attributed to her, was my question.

Thankfully, through some of my own research and more so the research of a good friend of mine who is an avid researcher, her story in some respects in regards to her true existence corroborated with local and American records of her.

But the underlying saga as adjunct to the editor’s is the adage “a prophet is never honoured in their own country”.

My good friend, Dale Butler, lamented the other day after someone complained there isn’t enough black history taught. Dale retorted: “I published 50 books and almost had to give them away in order for people to read them.”

So, too, are many of the acts and sacrifices that have taken the blood and life energy from countless souls in Bermuda that have been poured into the proverbial streets to be walked over, trampled upon but never to be acknowledged, let alone be celebrated.

Poor Sally Basset wasn’t just executed, she was burnt at the stake; in other words, crucified. There were no abolitionists to tell her story.

I tried, bolstered with the works of a researcher which matched my family folklore, to bring a little truth about where she more likely was murdered. The “lynch squad” came after me because this new truth of where she was crucified wasn’t important to their agenda in placing her monument at the Cabinet grounds.

Yes, but now we will see an air of righteousness in discovering the truth of all aspects of Mary Prince, and rightfully so.

There will be people standing shoulder to shoulder to be among those who acknowledge her, but shall the story of Sally and her place of crucifixion remain obscured, riddled by untruths. Not so popular call, eh? Well, I hope I don’t have the tombstone placed above me before another pursuit lies waiting.