Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons – Tell Us What You Think!

Edna Manley - Paul Bogle (1965), Photograph: Amador Packer


Since Independence, there have been several controversies about public monuments in Jamaica, starting in 1963 with the proposed National Monument for the Harbour View Roundabout, which was to be designed and sculpted by Alvin Marriott but which was never completed as a result. The other controversies pertained to Edna Manley’s Bogle (1965), Christopher Gonzales’ Bob Marley (1983) and Laura Facey’s Redemption Song (2003).

By far the most protracted controversy has been about the Bogle monument, which started at the time of its  1965 unveiling in front of the Morant Bay Courthouse, had resurfaced in 1971,  and flared up again in 2009, after the statue had been moved to Kingston for restoration.  A group of Morant Bay stakeholders requested that the monument should not be returned and replaced by a new monument, based on Paul Bogle’s presumed “true likeness” – the photograph reproduced below. The matter remains unresolved and the NGJ has made use of the presence of the recently restored statue in Kingston to present an exhibition on the subject, which opens on September 23 and continues until November 13.

Unknown photographer - portrait of Bogle (?), c1865?, copied from original tintype

The primary purpose of the Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icon exhibition is to present the latest information on the subject and to encourage productive discussion. Therefore, we want to hear from you and invite you to post your comments to this blog and/or to participate in the poll below.

While we respect all opinions, it should be noted that comments will be moderated and that statements that violate our community standards may not be published.

You can read more about the current controversy about the Bogle monument by clicking the following links:

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13 thoughts on “Edna Manley’s Bogle: A Contest of Icons – Tell Us What You Think!

  1. I grew up with that statue and have always felt pride in it and awesome wonder that Bogle a “small man” in the eyes of those with power had the courage to fight back. For me it represents the “small man” of Jamaican people, I do not care what the statue looks like! We need to stop wasting time on whether it is a fair representation of the physical likeness of Bogle. Let us spend our energy on making Bogle’s dreams count let us fight for the dignity and development of the mental, spiritual and physical well- being of all the “small people” of Jamaica who are desperately struggling to make something of themselves and their families! In today’s Jamaica the “small man” still does not seem to count and the justice and dignity of the martyr Bogle remains an illusion for the “small man” of Jamaica.

  2. George Mikes in 1966 observed a couple of workers looking at the statue (he mistook it for one of George William Gordon). One of them said “If he wasn’t a black man them wouldn’t have made him look so black”. I think that this is one of the complaints to this day, that the statue celebrates blackness. Some people need to get over it.

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  6. The monument is not a true representation of Paul Bogle. To my mind there should be some similarity between the official picture and the monument. Anything less is unacceptable.

  7. Paul Bogle was a freedom-fighter who fought for justice and for the system to provide the basic rights – right to earn a decent living, education, health care etc. for black people who had slaved to build Jamaica. His statue should look lke him (picture is known) and should inspire black people to continue fighting for justice and a better life for themselves and their children. The present statue does not depict this nor send that messaage. Give us a statue of Bogle the strong, bold, black leader, feedom fighter standing in a position depicting him leading his people forward and winning the great changes that he and the other martyrs with him won for Jamaica – free primary schools for black children to attend, hospitals and public medical care etc. things we take for granted – many not realizing that we have them because of Paul Bogle and the men and women who walked with him to Morant Bay and by their actions forced the government of the day to make the changes.

  8. As a Jamaican, i take pride in all my national heroes. However, I am now understanding that the image I have know to be that of Paul Bogle is not and this is very troubling. Yeas we can say is in his likeness but thats an injustice to Paul Bogle who stood up against an oppressive system and gave his life for the case. This injustice needs to be corrected. If this was done with Norman Manley, white Jamaicans would not stop until it was corrected. I feel the same when it comes to Paul bogle. I want to see an actual image of the real man; handsome or not.

    • The matter is being researched but there is no conclusive evidence to change the identification at this time.

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