Vigil for Paul Bogle this SundayFriday, October 22, 2021
BY BALFORD HENRY
A vigil to highlight Paul Bogle's contribution to St Thomas has been planned for October 24, 2021 by a foundation named in his honour and headed by a great-great grandson of the national hero.
According to Constantine Bogle, who is also a former councillor in the St Thomas Municipal Corporation, the event will be staged in a virtual format due to the no-movement order in force to help reduce spread of the novel coronavirus.
“But, we are urging people from all over the world to follow us and light a candle in their window, in solidarity with us, at 6:00 pm on Sunday,” he said.
The foundation, Bogle said, has already reached out to active rights movements in several countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Britain, the United States, Brazil, and Suriname to join in the vigil.
He also expressed hope that the prime minister, opposition leader and all other elected politicians will participate in the vigil and post it on social media as a demonstration of solidarity.
“Paul Bogle is a national hero, and we should not be having an event to commemorate him without the participation of the governor general, the prime minister and the leader of the opposition. They are the ones who will have to inspire the people to light their candles at 6:00 pm on Sunday and let us recreate this fire baptism to remind the world of what slavery has done to us,” he said.
The date is significant for the former councillor as his great-great grandfather was hanged on October 24, 1865 because he led the Morant Bay Rebellion, the crescendo to his constant agitation for fair treatment for all Jamaicans.
In fact, Constantine Bogle has been trying to drum up support for his call to make October 24 a national day to commemorate Paul Bogle's life.
Paul Bogle and his fellow national hero George William Gordon were born to free parents and lived most of their lives after Emancipation. However, their fierce opposition to slavery and post-Emancipation oppression of the former slave masters brought them together as companions in the Native Baptist Church teaming against then Governor John Eyre.
But, both men, as well as hundreds of their supporters, suffered the ultimate penalty for their advocacy and Gordon was hanged the day before Paul Bogle.
The hangings did not go unnoticed and, in January 1866 the British Parliament sent a Royal Commission from London to investigate the events in Jamaica.
The commission's report led to Edward John Eyre being dismissed as governor and charged, but not convicted of murder.
Constantine Bogle believes that there is much more to the story than the world is aware of, and argues that, if other people knew the details they would be streaming into the parish to engage residents about those heroes, thus contributing to tourism in St Thomas.
He also reasoned that, given the spiritual attachment of both men to the Church, Sunday's vigil would appeal to religious bodies, whose members would appreciate the role of Gordon's Native Baptist Church in fighting slavery.
Meanwhile, Constantine Bogle explained that he had not pressed for a similar day of recognition for Gordon at this time as he felt that was a decision that had to be left to his family. Or, probably after Sunday's event, the authorities may be moved to do the same for Gordon, he speculated.