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OBA ‘on board’ with honouring Prince

A detail from The History of Mary Prince, a landmark account that in 1831 hastened Britain’s ban on slavery (File photograph)

The approach of Cup Match has prompted a fresh appeal for one day of the holiday, which commemorates the emancipation of Bermuda’s slaves in 1834, to honour the Bermudian ex-slave and abolitionist Mary Prince.

Craig Cannonier, the One Bermuda Alliance leader, told the House of Assembly during the motion to adjourn on Friday: “If this government feels like changing the name of the second day, then, by all means; listen, we are on board.”

He spoke after Christopher Famous, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher, reiterated his appeal from one year previously in the House for Somers Day to be renamed.

Mr Famous told the House: “We have to go one step farther and honour this lady with what she deserves.”

The second day of the celebrated national holiday is named after Admiral Sir George Somers, who ran aground on the island in 1609.

Rolfe Commissiong, another PLP backbencher, acknowledged Mr Famous “had quite rightly” called for the Somers association with Cup Match to be “severed”.

He said: “Bearing in mind he was a former slave owner himself.

“Thankfully, that call has begun to resonate throughout the country.”

Mr Commissiong went on to say that he had proposed eight months ago to his colleagues that Ms Prince be honoured instead on the second day of Cup Match.

He added: “I thought that wouldn’t it be wonderful if, on the second day of Cup Match, believing that I think that issue will be resolved and we will — not this year, it’s a little too late — but that Sir George Somers will be consigned to the back streets of history, and that we place Mary Prince as someone who should take his place quite rightfully as being honoured on that second day.”

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said later: “With the Mary Prince story, she is the symbol of the abolition of slavery, she is the symbol of defiance and she is the symbol of moving forward to an era that would see all people as being the same.

“She will see her place in history. Not only is she our national hero, tribute will be given to her in a bigger way because our young people should, at the very least, be aware of what slavery was, what it did to us. Although it didn’t keep us down as a people, it still impeded us.”