Columbus set to become slave to political fashion: An Edwardian statue now kept under wraps in a council shed is causing a row on Merseyside. Jonathan Foster reports

First Edition

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS is in hiding under a tarpaulin in Liverpool as his political opponents plan a poignant revenge for 500 years of New World 'exploitation' - permanent exile amid a slave colony.

The Edwardian statue of the great voyager, which once stood proudly in Sefton Park, now scans the horizons of a hidden- away council depot and its annual excursion back to the park to celebrate Columbus Day on 12 October may be cancelled in the interests of public safety and political correctness.

Granby ward Labour Party, which includes the city's largest black population, wants the wreath-laying and sherry-drinking Columbus Day ceremony banned as an insult to indigenous populations of the New World who endured repression and genocide as a consequence of Columbus's voyage.

The statue is likely to be moved to the Merseyside Maritime Museum to form a focus of proposed slave trade exhibits. 'Columbus brought native Americans back to be slaves,' Sarah Norman, a Labour councillor, said. 'His voyage heralded genocide, imperialism and slavery. It is wrong to continue to commemorate these links in a celebratory way every year.

'Liverpool has been slow to face up to its past and the wealth it derived from the triangular trade.'

Demonstrators last year chanted 'murderer' as the Liverpool Anglo-Ibero-American Society held its Columbus ceremony. Police and council officials have told Joan Roberts, the society secretary, that the 500th anniversary next month of Columbus's landfall might provoke a windfall of dissent.

Ms Roberts said yesterday she was 'upset and angry' by criticism of the ceremony, instigated during the port's heyday at the suggestion of consular staff, including Bolivian, Venezuelan and Peruvian diplomats in Liverpool.

'The purpose has always been to promote trade and friendship, not slavery,' Ms Roberts said. 'Columbus Day is a national holiday in South America and it was a way for Liverpool to look to the future. The Chamber of Commerce were going to put on a lunch to try to bring trade into Liverpool.

'I have no political views, but I was brought up to believe you cannot change the past, but you do what you can in the present. It was this country that first abolished slavery. Why pick on Columbus?'

The Columbus statue was one of seven given to the city by Charles Thompson, a merchant, to adorn the now derelict Palm House in the park. Other statues included the explorer-imperialist Henry the Navigator, and Mercator, the cartographer who signposted the New World. They, too, are now believed to be under protective tarpaulin.

Dawn Booth, chairwoman of the council policy committee, said: 'We are aware of the request to move the statue - we will take into account feelings of all sections of the community.'

Ms Roberts hopes the Merseyside Development Corporation, which last month gave more than pounds 40,000 to subsidise events marking the exploitative consequences of Columbus, will allow the society to transfer its ceremony to a new marina.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore