The Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs announced today that plans are underway to erect a statue in tribute to Mary Prince, a Bermudian born into slavery whose story was the catalyst that led to the abolition of slavery.
The historical account, published in 1831 – ‘The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave’ , was first account on record, of the life of a Black woman to be published in the UK – a Black slave in Bermuda.
According to the statement released today, possible locations for the statue include the site of a cave in which Mary Prince hid after escaping from her slave owner.
Minister of Community Affairs and Sports, Lovitta Foggo said today, research shows that the cave’s exact location, which is on unspecified private land.
Ms Foggo announced that her Minister has begun a likeness for the statue, as no photographs exist of Mary Prince, although artistic accounts by contemporaries may help to create her depiction in the form of statue.
The Minister also noted that Mary Prince is famous for her slave narrative The History of Mary Prince (1831).
“This first-hand description of enslavement, released at a time when slavery was still legal in Bermuda and British Caribbean colonies, had a galvanising effect on the anti-slavery movement,” said Ms Foggo.
“It is so important that we find a fitting way to honour Mary Prince – or ‘Mary James’, and ‘Molly Wood’ as she was also known.
“As Mary Prince’s autobiographical narrative was instrumental in the abolition of slavery, not only in Bermuda but throughout the entire British Empire, this government is of the view that a statue be built in her honour. Obviously, due to the time in which she was living, there are no photographs of Mary Prince, but there are, of course, other ways to determine what she might have looked like – first-hand accounts from her contemporaries, for example.”
Overseas researcher Dr Margot Maddison-MacFadyen, who was recently given a grant to conduct research on Mary Prince, “to learn more about her latter days”, will “help to determine where the statue will be placed, as the desire is to have it be somewhere of historical significance to Mary’s life”.
“One possible location being considered, along with several others, is the cave in which Mary hid after she escaped from her slave-owner,” said Minister Foggo.
“Recent research has revealed the exact location of this cave, which is on private land, and we will be excited to share the location with the public in due course following discussions with the landowner. The Department of Community and Cultural Affairs has already begun research on the possible ‘look’ of a statue, in honour of Mary Prince.
“We would also like to be able to place physical markers at various other points of significance related to her life so that people can really make a more tangible connection with Mary Prince.”
Dr Maddison-MacFadyen recently visited nine local schools to present her research on Mary Prince.
Dr Maddison-MacFadyen graduated in May 2017 with a PhD from the Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her dissertation is titled ‘Reclaiming Histories of Enslavement from the Maritime Atlantic and a Curriculum: The History of Mary Prince’.
“Her current Bermuda-based postdoctoral research project is titled “Mind the Onion Seed” because both Mary Prince and Mary Elsie Tucker (on whom her research is partly focused) recollect working for Bermuda slave-owners as cultivators, growing onions.”
- File Photos Courtesy of DCI