Bogle statue model was hero's grandson

Widow tells how her husband came to be used by sculptor and the controversy it created

BY INGRID BROWN Sunday Observer senior reporter

Sunday, March 21, 2010    

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THE statue which stood for years as a great historical landmark before the Morant Bay courthouse in St Thomas above the inscription 'Paul Bogle' and which many Jamaicans believed to be a true image of the national hero, was in fact that of Phillip Bogle, said to be his grandson.

Phillip's widow, Patricia, who still lives at the couple's home in Dumfries in St Thomas, told the Sunday Observer last week that the statue is the spitting image of her late husband who had willingly posed for sculptor Edna Manley to construct what many persons outside of that parish thought was a true replica of Bogle.

In fact, there are still residents in Morant Bay who readily recount the day when a group of "brown people" came from Kingston in search of Phillip, affectionately called 'Mr Bagan'.

Recounting the tale her husband would repeat over and over, Patricia said some time in 1962 he was with friends when a group of persons came in search of a close relative of Bogle.

As one who frequently spoke of his relationship to Bogle, it didn't take long for residents to point the group in Phillip's direction.

"He said they saw these brown people coming and this woman was in the lot (who it is believed was Mrs Manley, wife of National Hero Norman Manley -- both now deceased) and they came up and ask for him but no one answered because they didn't know what they were about," she recounted.

She said the silence to strangers was a result of the hatred which had been levelled against members of the Bogle family by fellow parishioners who blamed that parish's demise on the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion in which over 300 persons were believed to have been killed.

"Because the Bogles were so hated no one wanted to answer when they ask for "Bagan" until them hear what dem was about," she continued.

In a stance similar to that depicted on the statue, Phillip is said to have folded his hands with the cutlass still in his grasp.

"He said he had been told, when you have a cutting tool and someone approach and you not going to do them anything, then yu fold yu hand like this, and so when he saw them coming he folded his hands," she said.

Patricia said he was later taken into Kingston to pose for Mrs Manley who designed the statue with his features, since there was no known photo of Paul Bogle at that time. She said some time after, a cousin produced a picture of Paul Bogle, which later appeared on the $2 note since 1969, until it was phased out, and has been on the 10-cent coin since 1991.

"Him say when they ask him to come into Kingston he felt so good and honoured and so him actually delay himself to see if they really needed him, but when he got there he was very happy to see that everyone was waiting and looking out for him," she told the Sunday Observer at her home in Dumfries.

Those who knew him said that was the beginning of a new life for Phillip Bogle. With the money he was paid, and no one seemed to know how much, he bought the first television set in his community and strategically placed it for fellow residents to watch.

Described as a determined and feisty man, Phillip Bogle was almost like a hero among his circle of friends who eagerly shared in the new recognition he had been given and the functions he would be officially invited to in his capacity as Paul Bogle's grandson.

He was specially invited to oversee the exhuming of the bones of those who were slaughtered during the rebellion and buried at the back of the courthouse.

But not everyone basked in this newfound recognition or welcomed the statue. In fact, the murmuring for it to be replaced with a true image of Paul Bogle began from 1965, when it was erected, and has now grown increasingly louder as the Jamaica National Heritage Trust prepares to remount the artwork which was taken down for repair last year, following destruction of its base by a mentally-ill man.

But as many persons publicly voiced their displeasure, Patricia said her late husband remained proud to have represented his grandfather.

"From way back in the '60s people would say them want it remove and threaten to mash down this big black ugly sinting, but Bagan would just pass by, stand and look proudly at it," she said.

"People would recognise him from the statue and would criticise him, while some would be very joyful, but him never business what them want to say because he was a very boasy man," she added.

Zedekiah Inglington, said to have been a good friend of Phillip Bogle, recalled the residents' reaction the day the statue was unveiled.

"When Mr Seaga unveil it and the people realise it was Bagan some get really upset," he told the Sunday Observer.

"Them even come ask Bagan if is him and him tell dem yes, is him, because he was so proud of it," Inglington said, adding that Phillip Bogle spoke of it to everyone who would listen.

Patricia said Phillip would often argue that he was the only brave Bogle to have come forward and so his critics should not blame him for his newfound recognition.

Patricia, who married Phillip in 1975, remembered him having some of Paul Bogle's traits, which have been captured by history books.

Historians say the infamous Morant Bay Rebellion grew out of the conviction of a black Jamaican for trespassing on a long-abandoned plantation. The man was freed by the local population who had protested his conviction. However, on returning to their village of Stony Gut, the residents and Bogle learnt that warrants had been issued for the arrest of 27 men there for a number of offences, including rioting and assaulting the police.

Bogle, a Baptist deacon, led nearly 300 locals on the march to the courthouse where they were confronted by the militia which opened fire on them, killing seven of the protesters.

But the militia was overwhelmed and by the end of the day the protestors had killed at least 18 people -- militia and officials -- and taken control of the town.

In response, Britain sent troops to crush the rebellion. Historians also say that approximately 439 blacks were killed by the British, 354 of them -- including Paul Bogle -- executed after so-called trials.

Bogle was eventually named a National Hero.

Describing Phillip as a determined man, Patricia said he was "warsome in some ways but peaceful at other times".

"He would stand up for his rights and wouldn't back down," she said, smiling.

His only regret, she added, was that he never knew Paul Bogle.

"But although he was a small child he said he remembered his great-grandmother sitting down and crying that them kill her son at Morant Bay," said Patricia.

Phillip Bogle was said to have been born on October 29, 1913, the only child of Amanda Bogle, said to be Paul Bogle's daughter.

There is no record of Phillip Bogle's father, as he was given his mother's maiden name. His mother died while he was a baby and he went to live with his great-grandmother, Cecelia Bogle, Paul Bogle's mother.

But she, too, died while he was still a child and he was sent to live with another family.

A year before Phillip's death in 1995, Patricia said they made a family trip to Spring Gardens, the final resting place of his great-grandmother and other ancestors, to pay their last respects.

Last week, Dorette Abrahams, president of the African Heritage Development Association, who has been pushing for the remounting of a statue that truly reflects the image of Paul Bogle, said she was upset that the name 'Paul Bogle' was inscribed on the plinth of the statue, when the work was not a true image of him. After some lobbying, she said, this was later changed to read: 'Artistic impression of Paul Bogle'.

According to Abrahams, she felt led by her ancestors to return to her birth parish of St Thomas to ensure that the proper recognition be given to Bogle and all those killed in the Morant Bay uprising.

Now, through her organisation, she is leading the cause for a new statue to be mounted, this time facing the courthouse. Additionally, she is calling for better care to be taken of the ancestral burial site at the back of the burnt-out courthouse, which is being desecrated by mentally-ill persons as well as those seeking some place to engage in sexual acts.

"The biggest desecration is the public toilet which was built on top of the grave where they found the largest number of bodies," Abrahams said.

She also wants to see the square directly in front of the courthouse be blocked off to vehicular traffic and that storyboards be placed along the pathway from which persons can trace the history.





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