Sir Vivian Richards Statue of Dignity - Unveiling the Facts - Part I

Sir Vivian Richards Statue of DignityReflections - Revolutionary Salutations- "I wish my old man could be here now because he always instills in me the certain powers of achieving, and I would love him to be here tonight but I know he's here.....My family has always been supportive throughout my life," Sir Vivian Richards (Richards Shares from the Heart - Jamaica Gleaner February 16, 2007)

Seven years ago, these words echoed by The Right Excellent Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards vividly captured the love "the master blaster" exhibits for his late father Malcolm 'Donamiche' Richards and family. His dad would have smiled with great adulation possibly reflecting on his son innings of youth in contrast to the man whose achievements are embodied  in the 'Statue of Dignity' at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua on Wednesday February 26, 2014.

Sixty-nine years ago Malcolm Richards, Sydney Walling, and William Gore were some of Antigua & Barbuda's best cricketers. Their talents landed them a place on the Leeward Islands team in 1945. During that era and even before that 'small island' cricketing ascendancy was stymied for West Indies Test selection. The crawl to higher level of meritocracy came when Windward Island, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Alfie Roberts was chosen for the West Indies cricket team. He toured New Zealand in 1956.

Alfie Roberts was the first 'small islander' to play in a Test, the fourth and final. It took some 18 years for three Leeward Island cricketers to be selected for the West Indies Test team; Elquemedo Willet from Nevis in 1972 , Anderson Montgomery Everton Roberts;  and Viv Richards from Antigua in 1974.

Besides these four Test cricketers between 1956 and 1974, thirty-one more were selected from the Leeward and Windward islands within the next 38 years. Downright prejudices and blatant colonial thinking might have stifled the flowering of countless others to play for the West Indies. Although Leeward/Windward Test countries cover a land area of 2,905 square kilometers with a population of  598,266 in contrast to the four top Test countries 5,172,595 million people and 231,549 square kilometers, by defying the odds the 'small islands' combined talent earned these countries 35 Test selections.

But this struggle for equity and inclusion continued throughout the Leeward & Windward Islands against the prejudiced establishment of 'small island' cricket aspiration and development. We have come a long long way, since John Hawkins 'The Good Ship Jesus' shackled us to a plantation life of underdevelopment and lost hope. Centuries on we have battled through a minefield of prejudices from cricket to business, administratively and politically. This struggle continues, but today we celebrate.

Today, these islands deservedly celebrate 35 or 12% of the 296 test players elected since 1928. Antigua led this group with 13 of the 35 Test selections. The major Caribbean countries with the most Test selections are: Barbados 81, Jamaica 70, Trinidad & Tobago 64 and Guyana 46 represents 88% of the total. (List of West Indies Test Cricketers - Wikipedia )

Three of these Antigua Test players were knighted during the first One Day International at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium on Friday, February 28, 2014. Sir Anderson Montgomery Everton  Roberts was one of three Antiguan cricketers Knighted, finally acknowledged 40 years after his West Indies Test debut. The two others justly rewarded were Sir Richard Benjamin Richardson, and Sir Curtly Lindwall Ambrose. Sir Andy's accolade was long overdue, a lifetime of golden service finally rewarded.

I am guessing of the many thoughts going through Sir A.M.E. Roberts' mind, one was of his late mother Isabelle 'Bellesie' Sheridian, who affectionately referred to him as 'Andah' while at the same time remembering the nation's callousness on her passing and our lack of historic value analyzed by Antigua historian Tim Hector. He wrote: "....recognising the worth and value of the valuable among us, is purely superficial here. A people without a deep-rooted sense of their significant person, and moments in time, are not yet a people" (Jim Allen hero in spite of the terror and the time August 24, 2001- Fan the Flame by Tim Hector)

Antigua & Barbuda Test cricket selections and the memorable contribution to the greatest sporting team is historically recorded, in one particular article Viv to Sir Vivian by Tim Hector, this historic value was exemplified "How any area of the world with less than 150,000 people could produce amazing talent is quite a story" Furthermore, Tim Hector alludes to this 'apex of achievement' in an article titled (The OECS in Time, Space and Sports on April 21, 2000) Past struggles produced yesterday's warriors and the era of liberation cricket legacy and Caribbean's cricket identity.

The Advent of Vivi and The Statue of Dignity:

The advent of Vivi's era of revolutionary fervor, mixed with Rastafari and Black Power militancy opposed the despotism of past constraints. The indomitable spirit of Sir Viv's father lives in the cricketing veins of Vivi and the arteries of liberation cricket and Viv's belief "I believe very strongly in the black man asserting himself in this world and over the years, I have leaned towards many movements that follow this basic course" (Viv's autobiography Hitting Across the Line).

This agitation of social justice and black activism was carried out by Trinidadian CLR James decades earlier. He utilized the arena of sports to change the status quo of injustice. CLR political activism revolutionized West Indies cricket in the 1960s and beyond.

Since the appointment of West Indies first black captain George Headly for one Test in 1948, no other black man was elected captain, but this was about to change at the Queen's Park Ovals in Trinidad. The 1960 Test match England vs West Indies was the arena, a mini riot on the third day agitated against West Indies white Test captain Gerry Alexander, resulted in CLRs declaration 'Alexander must go' (The forgotten story of .....white West Indian cricketers- The Guardian)

This agitation spurred by a mini riot at the Queen's Park Ovals in Trinidad was against the white Caribbean racist cricket establishment. The revolt was against the revolving door of white captains governing, and the establishment disregarding the intelligence and dominance of the majority Caribbean cricket players of African ancestry. Tim Hector viewed the leadership role of white minority control in cricket as the same in business, and condemned this disempowerment of black people: "Leadership was a white function. So in the economy, so in cricket" (Development of Test captaincy of West Indies Cricket- Wikipedia)

In 1960 Gerry Alexander was the 12th and last white man to captain West Indies team. In 1960-1961 tour of Australia, Frank Worrell became the first black man appointed West Indies cricket Test captain for a full Test series. CLR James' patriotic and tireless campaign blossomed West Indies cricket revolution 'Beyond a Boundary' (List of West Indies Cricket Captain- Wikipedia)

Against this backdrop, Viv was declaring war not only within the boundaries of cricket, but outside of it too. Essentially, The Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' is representational of Viv's social activism and cricket dynamism. (A Brief History of England v West Indies 1928-2011 Martin Williamson)

The  Statue of Dignity by Cuba's premier sculptor Andres Gonzales Gonzalez is inextricably linked to the idea of a sculpted bust of Sir Viv done by Antiguan gifted sculptor Carl Henry titled 'Lionhearted' This bust was handed over to Viv on September 26, 1991.The 1991 event was coordinated by the Viv Richards Ovals Action Committee (VROAC) in the Ovals Park 'In honor of our National Hero'.

Subsequently, the title of Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KHN) was officially conferred on Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards by the Governor General on May 29, 1999. Fifteen years later, the historical unveiling of  Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' was realized. At his unveiling were his inspirational and loving mother Grathel Richards, family members, foreign invited guests and friends. The family witnessed the elevation of a shared belief, encouraging words, progressive action, struggle, passion, resilience, hope and pride, culminating in Sir Viv's life work for this and future generations.

Although this was one of the greatest historical events of our generation, the wrong location was selected. The celebration should be at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG), the genesis of Sir Viv's fastest century off 56 balls on April 15, 1986, the Black Wash of England, and the celebratory mood emanating from Sir Viv's triumph were all captured by photo-journalist Colin 'Bones' Cumberbatch. Cumberbatches' photo, which descriptively captured Viv's elation, bat raised over his head, jumping with elation, the West Indies Maroon cricket cap close to his chest symbolized the moment that contributed to Andres Gonzales Gonzales masterpiece of 'Dignity' (List of International Cricket Centuries by Viv Richards- Wikipedia)

What are the expressive and creative feelings, thoughts and concern that will emanate from vistors' mind. Why is the monument at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium and not the ARG, the area of true significance? Take a look at the following examples:

The monument of Ernesto "Che" Guevara to commemorate the last battle of the Cuban revolution in Santa Clara is where it belongs in Santa Clara, the site of the battle to defeat General Fulgencio Batista on December 31,1958.The Battle of Santa Clara and revolutionary leader Che are inseparable, so too the life-size statue to honour him! (Che's Last Stand
by Ed Ewing -the guardian Wednesday December 31, 2008)

So too was U.S-CIA financed 1,511 mercenaries Bay of Pigs (Bahía de Cochinos) invasion in mid-April 1961 to overthrow Fidel Castro. The mercenaries landed on Playa Giron, located on the eastern side of the Bay of Pigs, and were defeated in less than 72 hours. This was the U.S. first military forces defeat in Latin America. And to honour that victory The Victory Complex by great Cuban Sculptor Andres Gonzales.

On June 16, 1976, Hector Pieterson a 13 year old student was murdered by South Africa's Apartheid police force during the Soweto uprising. On 16 June 2002 the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum was opened near the place he was shot in Orlando West, Soweto (Wikpedia)

Frederick Douglass statue represents the District of Columbia in Congress' Statuary Hall. This statue in the Emancipation Hall in the Capital of D.C. was the center of Douglass' advocacy of human rights and equality of existence.

These examples confirmed that statues are usually placed in the area significant with the event! The Right Excellent Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' was conceived long before the construction of Sir Viv Richards Stadium, and many others within the Caribbean.

Furthermore, it's a travesty and a grave historical injustice to deny the genesis of that conceptual plan and the destiny of its foundation. There was no inclusion only a separation of facts, PM Baldwin Spencer implied he knew nothing of the statues history. For this present and future generation, I have decided to unveil the facts .

Part II -  The facts unveiled

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5 Comments In This Article   


Statue of Diginity

#5 jadonra » 2014-03-09 23:53

Sir Vivian Richards Statue of Dignity should be all over the world. Govt. of West Indies and we all can build another Statue of Lion Heart Sir Vivian Richards at Antigua Recreational Grounds . Sir Vivian Richards is from this beautiful island Antigua and Barbuda (West Indies) but he belongs to whole world. We all love and respect Sir Vivian Richards .God bless Antigua and beautiful people of Antigua .For us Sir Viv is everything ,He is Legend ,Icon he is our Father Nelson Mandela ,He is our President Obama He is our Martin King Luther He is all in one. Vivian Richards is humble ,kind ,loving son of Antigua and Great son of this Universe. We love him ,send always beautiful .loving vibrations through these news. We love him like we love God.


RE: Sir Vivian Richards Statue of Dignity - Unveiling the Facts - Part I

#4 dude » 2014-03-09 13:08

Hi Bummy, give me a call please. you should know the area code
889-3814. looking forward to hear from you


@Plaid Mongoose

#3 The Raven » 2014-03-09 10:08

Just say congratulations or shut up, don't taint this moment with politics. Be happy for him and his family.

The Raven

RE: Sir Vivian Richards Statue of Dignity - Unveiling the Facts - Part I

#2 West Indian » 2014-03-09 07:17

All West Indians are very happy and proud of Viv's achievement.

West Indian

RE: Sir Vivian Richards Statue of Dignity - Unveiling the Facts - Part I

#1 Plaid Mongoose » 2014-03-09 05:27

Why no statue for Sir Allen?

The man has been n jail over five years, and hundreds of Antiguans are still living off his victims assets!

Plaid Mongoose

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