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People Are Voting Whether To Topple A Statue Of A Victorian Explorer

by : Hannah Smith on : 14 Oct 2021 15:06
People Are Voting Whether To Topple A Statue Of A Victorian ExplorerWikimedia Commons/Alamy

A statue of famous Welsh explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley could be removed over his ties to colonial exploitation, with opponents describing it as ‘an insult to African people.’

Residents in Stanley’s hometown of Denbigh, where the statue is located, are being asked to vote on whether the monument should be pulled down after a petition calling for its removal gained more than 7,000 signatures.

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While primarily known for his missions in Africa, Stanley also undertook work as an agent for Belgium’s King Leopold II, and played a significant role in helping Belgium colonise the Congo, whose people were subjected to horrific atrocities while being forced to work in the King’s rubber plantations.

Sir Henry Morton Stanley statue in Denbigh, Wales (Alamy)Alamy

Stanley was also accused of dealing with slave traders and mistreating Africans employed by his missions, with the petition referring to the explorer’s ‘excessive violence, wanton destruction, the selling of labourers into slavery and shooting Africans indiscriminately.’

Members of Denbigh town council had previously voted in a split decision for the statue to remain, however, the town’s officials are now asking local residents for their feelings on the issue.

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‘It would have happened by now but for all the complications with Covid,’ said Denbigh mayor Rhys Thomas. ‘There will be a public consultation, possibly over a couple of days, at the town hall. We are hoping to do the groundwork for this in September.’

The statue was officially unveiled in 2011, however, it has been a source of controversy ever since plans for its creation were announced, with artist Nick Elphick claiming he’d been subjected to abuse for designing the monument.

Sir Henry Morton Stanley (Alamy)Alamy

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, the statue become part of a wider discussion about monuments of historical figures with racist and colonial ties, with several prominent figures, including diocese Bishop Gregory Cameron, calling for it to be taken down.

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‘The vast majority of emails I’ve had have been against keeping the statue,’ said councillor Rob Parkes last year, per The Telegraph. ‘The eyes of the world are on us and it’s vitally important we make the right decision.’

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk

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Hannah Smith

Hannah is a London-based journalist covering news and features for UNILAD. She's especially interested in social and political activism.

Topics: News, no-article-matching, Now, Statues

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The Telegraph
  1. The Telegraph

    Sir Henry Morton Stanley statue could be pulled down after BLM protests