Despite the current global pandemic, no topic has been discussed more than statues in the UK in recent weeks. Black Lives Matter protests and counter protesters have marched on London demanding or protesting against, the removal of statues linked to slavery and racism. The first incident galvanising such discussion and protest has been the toppling of Bristolian slaver Edward Colston earlier this month.
Below is a list of statues that should be erected to celebrate and reflect a more complete history of Britain, including those who fought for justice.
Sefanaia Sukanaivalu was a Fijian soldier during WW2 and was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross. He was a Corporal in the 3rd Battalion taking part in the Bougainville campaign fighting against the Japanese occupation of the Soloman islands.
During a firefight, he advanced into enemy fire, and successfully rescued two allied troops who had been ambushed. Attempting to rescue a third, Sefanaia found himself pinned down under heavy enemy fire. The Corpral's men insisted on mounting a rescue, despite his protestations. Realising his men would risk their own lives to mount a rescue, he stood up, and allowed himself to be shot dead by the enemy, in order to prevent his men endangering themselves.
He was the first Fijian to receive the Victorian Cross, Britain’s most prestigious military award.
Mary Prince – and All Female Slave Whose Stories Were Never Heard
Mary Prince was a Bermudian slave who escaped her captors after being transported to England from the horrifying salt pond plantations in the West Indies. After being transported to England she evaded her former masters and went to the Anti-Slavery Society to seek shelter and her freedom. Her experiences were recorded in the book ‘The History of Mary Prince’ and was popular amongst abolitionists just as the emancipation of slaves was gaining traction in the UK. Parliament rejected her pleas to return as a free woman to Antigua to rescue her husband without being enslaved again.
The rest of her life is a mystery and apart from what has been said, not much is known about her. A statue to her, and all other female slaves whose tragic stories were never heard would serve as a historical reminder of those who were forgotten but brave enough to challenge a cruel status-quo.
An Eternal Flame – in solidarity with those who sacrificed so much but still suffer today.
Around the world an eternal flame is used to represent a collection of people who died fighting for a valiant cause. However, little is often said about the grave and sometimes fatal mental afflictions those who sacrificed so much can suffer from every day. Alongside a greater provision of mental health services for veterans, a permanent symbol of solidarity in the form of an eternal flame could provide some much needed unity and celebration of British heroes.
Ottobah Cugoano aka John Stuart
Ottobah Cugoano was the first African ex-slave to publicly demand abolition. He was also a member of the first black political activist group, the Sons of Africa who were key in achieving the abolition of slavery and fighting for racial justice within the UK. He wrote about his experiences in his novel and provided arguments against the religious and secular reasons for the slave trade. His works were received by George III and Edmund Burke and has since been held as a vital component in the abolitionist movement.
Both mentioned did not make the list due to already having statues and prominence in the UK
A leader in the movement securing the Abolition of Slavery Act of 1807 and staunch advocate for the Freedom of Sierra Leone.
Aneurin Bevan, better known as Nye Bevan was a welsh labour politician and ex-miner who was the driving force behind the establishment of the NHS and fought against injustice throughout his life.
Special thanks to Orla Talyor-Davies for the research which informed this article