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

Sir Vivian Richards"He was a monumental pantheon of terrifying power wrapped in eagle- eye reflexes of sheer brilliance. That rare creativity and self-confidence with a bat in hand could tear down any barrier to victory.

The man could decide at anytime he wanted to, not just the outcome of a Test or One Day match, but the fire, tempo and spirit of the game. If he played to break records, like an unstoppable tidal wave, he could have broken them all. But Viv was constantly inspired  by the pride of his people. West Indies dominance was the target of his achievement--the very essence of his dignity" - ( Antiguan Dr. Isaac Newton - Harvard, Princeton and Columbia graduate)

"This is why, for me, statistics are meaningless. They can never reflect the true genius of Viv  Richards. Had he wanted, he could easily have scored twice as many Test runs as he did." - Richards the Perfectionist  A Genius of His Generation- Imran Khan.

"To Viv Richards more so, cricket and anti-apartheid struggle were inseparable. West Indies winning against all comers, particularly England and Australia was to him, an extension of the struggle against apartheid. It was a consciously held view by Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, and it was consciously executed. Therein lies his immortality." (A Spirit of Dominance - Pan Africanism, West Indies Cricket and Viv Richards - Antigua Historian Tim Hector)

Dr Newton captures Sir Viv's cultural significance with erudite eloquence. Imran the combative spirit of Viv's distinguished play. Tim, the essence of Viv's Pan -African consciousness, the sum total of his dominance and cultural values.

Vivi and his Community

The Right Excellent National Hero Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards and the Ovals community maintained a strong symbiotic relationship with the community-based Viv Richards Ovals Action Committee (VROAC). Our goal was to follow Viv's life-long commitment to the struggle of social justice advocacy, and regional unity, encompassing virtually all disciplines in sports, and education. These initiatives would have enabled people to capitalize on empowerment  programs that represents an identity- related aspirations of independence.

From 1991 to 2000 the VROAC had four social events. Our first event was on Thursday, September 26, 1991 in the Ovals Park, and our last event was 'A Knight of Dignity' on Thursday January 20, 2000. The VROAC objectives were simple. We aimed at resurfacing The Ovals Basketball Court in addition to putting in new seating and lighting: we planned to establish a Learning Center, coupled with the revival of Brute Force Steel band. Revolutionary Salutations to Mervyn 'Deke' Richards, Gilian Brazier, Deverel Forde, Gene Small, Cinti, Naba, honorary member Hugh Gore Andy Liburd and the Liverpools and many others.

Randell A Pyle, notable Antigua & Barbuda architect was contacted to undertake the architectural impression of the Learning Center in 1994. Pyle was very enthusiastic and completed the two-floor concept within two weeks. The first floor was designed for Steel Band storage. It was to serve as well as a hurricane shelter. The second floor was designed to house the library and Information Technology Services. Due to financial constraints, the only project the VROAC completed was the basketball resurfacing, lighting, and seating.

Today, Sir Viv is absorbed in thought about the revival of Brute Force Steel-band. Viv knows the Brute Force soul of pan project will wake-up the spirit of the community, in the 1940s Brute Force surpassed all in the region. The creativity of the Brute Force sound defined the community and the skillful free-flowing of players such as: Killa, Earl & John Shaw, Seldon, Arthur 'Bum' Jardine, Captain,Troupe, Chin Chin, and Welly. Brute Force was the first steel band to be recorded, the first to use rubber on sticks to  play bass,(1) raising their visibility, and playing skills of that era as flamboyant, and entertaining. Sir Viv remains a big part of this community, a community of women entrepreneurs, homemakers, cultural icons, and businesses of all description. (Antigua Stories - South Street Notables 1940s and 1950s)
Keeper of the flame, Winston Phoenix nostalgic experience of Brute Force highly critical and appreciative pieces such as the rhythmic and unhurried "Del Magreto Del Bay"  "Zambezi" "Loretta" and "Mambo Jambo" recounts past pan players, the music and the role of cultural heritage in nation building. Revolutionary Salutations to Winston Phoenix. (pandora.com)

Out of this context, Sir Viv ascended from the whistling willows of Drake Street (Sir Viv Richards Street) and the Ovals playground, to a monument celebrating his lifework. The Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' idea was given birth. It was to become the nation's symbol of leadership, courage, pride, moral strength, humility and patriotism.

The Foundation of Dignity

It was originally envisioned that The Right Excellent Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards 'Statue of Dignity' place of prominence would have been the Antigua Recreation Grounds (ARG) round-about. This was chosen because it was the area significant with Sir Viv's triumph. The Viv Richards Ovals Action Committee (VROAC) development of a life-size statue of Sir Viv was a mission statement of his life-work and community love. This progression started from a sculpted mahogany bust of Sir Viv in 1991.

A sculpted mahogany bust of Sir Viv by respected Antiguan sculptor Carl Henry was handed over to Sir Viv at the Ovals playground on September 26, 1991. Sir Selwyn Walter had introduced me to Carl Henry in June 1991. Revolutionary salutation to Carl Henry and Sir Selwyn Walters.

Six years later, on February 18,1997 VROAC dispatched a letter to PM Lester Bird in regard to ARG round- about be sanctioned as the site for a life-size statue of Sir Viv: ".. we request the government sanction the round-about for a statue of excellence- the legendary I.V.A. Richards"

Less than two years later, on Tuesday  November 17, 1998, there was an Official Reception hosted by Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of  State and the Government of the Republic of Cuba. After exchanged pleasantries with President Castro, the president and I spoke for about five minutes. President Castro inquired about our Cuban franchise La Casa Del Habano extending complimentary support and solidarity! Revolutionary salutation to President Fidel Castro and to the people of Cuba.

Later that evening, my conceptual proposal for a Statue of Sir I.V.A. Richards was discussed with two Cuban government officials: Lazaro Cabeza, Cuban Ambassador to Antigua, and Minister of Culture Abel Prieto. Since both officials agreed, I communicated the agreement to PM Lester Bird. PM Bird asked me to inquire about a statue for Sir V.C. Bird. Sir Vere's statue was also approved and included in the annex of the agreement signed on Thursday November 19, 1998 at 09:30am by the Government of Antigua and the Republic of Cuba.

The Signing of Agreements was at the Protocol Lounge of  Palco Hotel. The Cuban government commissioned one of its top sculptors for the assignment. Andres  Gonzales one of Cuba's great sculptors was commissioned under a bilateral agreement between Antigua & Cuba to do a life-size statue of  The Right Excellences Sir Vere Cornwall Bird and Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards,

Who is Andres Gonzales Gonzales?

Andres was born in Pinar del Rio, Cuba on November 10 1957 . A graduate of  Cuba's National Art Schools ( ENA) of sculpture. Also graduated from the State Institute of Arts VI Surikov in Moscow in 1986. He is the sculptor of the Che Guevera monument in front of the National Palace in Brazil, Jose Marti in Havana, Cuba, The Victory Complex at The Bay of Pigs, the bust of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at top Pico Caracas, one of the highest elevation in Cuba, the bust of Sir Vere Cornwall Bird, The Sir Viv Richards life-size bronze 'Statue of Dignity' and  many more historical and civic sculptures around the world.

Following the bi-lateral arrangement of Sir Viv's life-size bronze statue, Sir  Reginald Samuel was available to help create the criteria for the Viv Richards 'Dignity' award. The award criteria stipulates the principles of honesty, excelling in leadership, services to the community and never surrendering your integrity as core values: 'A consideration of those who honestly purport to bring some Dignity to the Country by their concerted efforts through the years, without fear, favor or personal aggrandizement. But thinking only of enchanting the good name of Antigua and Barbuda'  Revolutionary salutations to Sir Reginald Samuel.

Sir Reginald prepared the Sir Viv Richards 'Dignity' award criteria in January 1999. On February 13, 1999 Andres arrived in Antigua, and met with the VROAC at the Cortsland Hotel regarding Sir Viv statue. Andrez prerequisite requirements were photographs of Sir Viv's face taken from different angles. This assignment was undertaken by Timothy Payne, Antigua Sun photo-journalist. Andres left Antigua, and returned continually in 2000 and 2002. Revolutionary salutations to Timothy Payne!

In 2000 and 2002 Andres gave PM Lester Bird a real-time update on the progress of Sir Vere's statue.The progress report established preliminary work on the mold of Sir Vere's Bird bust was completed at Andres studio in Havana, Cuba. The mold was shipped to Antigua in early March 2002 to continue the second phase at the New Market in Antigua. PM Lester Bird visiting the New Market site commended the artist visionary creativity "I want to say how please I am to see this project reach an advancement stage...and I am particularly gratified that the government of Cuba has found it fit to select one of the top sculptors in Cuba to create this fitting tribute to our National Hero Sir Vere" Sir Vere's bust was unveiled on Monday July 1,2002 CARICOM Day. (The Daily Observer- Prime Minister Bird Meets Cuban Sculptor Tuesday March 26, 2002)

Earlier, on March 25, 2002, statuettes of Sir Viv's 'Statue of Dignity' were handed over to H.E. Ambassador Colin Murdoch, Sir Viv, now Minister of Sport, Mervyn Richards, and I. Sir Viv was impressed and humbly accepted the statuette from Andres Gonzalez "I'm just extremely proud that I am able to cross paths with such people, sculptor from a place we all recognized- Cuba. We are just seeing some of the masterpieces which come out of that country" Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' arrived in Antigua in 2012. (The Daily Observer- Statue Depicts Sir Vivian at His Proudest Moment  Monday April 8, 2002)

Sir Viv's Statue of Dignity embodies the revolutionary spirit of Antigua and Barbuda National Hero and crickets legendary batsman and social activist Sir Viv Richards in conjunction with the cultural manifestation of the great Cuban artist Andres Gonzales.These men represent the revolutionary soul of Caribbean people, one that extends beyond their boundaries to political representation of the liberation struggles in Southern Africa. Revolutionary Salutations to Comrade Andres Gonzales, and Sir Viv Richards.

Often, it is our sporting heroes and heroines, ordinary women and men political activism that forge significant changes, since Governments are usually diametrically opposed to social justice and human rights. For example Tommy Smith and John Carlos Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, agitated for civil rights, publicizing the issue of U.S. injustice, Muhammad Ali revolted against the Vietnam War with the symbolic words "I ain't got no quarrel with those Vietcong", Diego Maradona marching against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, Rosa Park arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat to a white man, initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Sir Viv Richards outspoken views and refusal of millions to play in Apartheid South Africa was an embodiment of his dignity. For me, conscientious sport figures and political activism can change the course of history from C.L.R James to Tim Hector, and from Ali to Vivi.

No Acknowledgement

A special committee to honor our living legend and National Hero called the National Heroes Committee headed by Stan Bowen and under the auspices of the Ministry of Sports was set up by PM Baldwin Spencer. Stan Bowen the event organizer, and Mervyn 'Deke' Richards Minister of Sports were the persons responsible for the events fulfillment and the greatness of the celebration. Most unfortunately, members of the Oval community and so many stalwarts all of whom gave birth to this idea were deprived of their accolades.

Neither acknowledgement nor notable mention were made of the persons and  organizations responsible for Sir Viv Richards Statue of Dignity. Yet, political grandstanding was more important to PM Spencer than historical accuracy:  "It humbles me to be prime minister who honors this man, though when it comes to King Viv I am just an ordinary citizen of Antigua & Barbuda who is proud to call him one if us"

In response, The Right Excellent Sir Viv Richards recognized the Cuban gift of formidable courage, enduring solidarity and fraternal love "It's not often you see impressions you think look real and for the gift itself being a brand of Cuba, I am very pleased. I am privileged and over the moon to be in such a position" (Sir Viv Richards Statue Unveiled)

To be true, Sir Viv is entitled to be "over the moon" Antigua National Hero 1999, winner of Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award, voted one of five Wisden Cricketers of the 20th Century in 2000, The Sir Viv Richards Stadium honoring his achievements in 2007, and the Sir Viv Richards 'Statue of Dignity' in 2014. Each of these awards are for his dominant cultural values of beliefs developed to a high standard of excellence.

From the start of his Test career in Bangalore, India 1974 and his final Test at the Oval in England1991, cricket was at the height of entertainment richness and revival of pride. No one can forget the 1976 West Indies cricket tour of England and Viv's summer of runs and dominant role. Viv compiled a series total of 829 runs and a calendar year record of 1,710 runs at 90.0 "Richards arrived and 1976 was to see the flower in full bloom with a remarkable total of 1,710runs in Test matches including 135 at Old Trafford, 232 at Trent Bridge, 291 at the Oval, 102 at Adelaide, 142 at Bridgetown, 130 and 177 at Port of Spain.. " (The Big Hitters by Brian Bearshaw)

The fastest Test century off 56 deliveries in 1986, his 121- Test career compiled 8549 runs at 50.2 with 24 centuries. The West Indies glorious World Cup wins in 1975 and 1979. Viv captained the West Indies in 50 Tests matches from 1985 to 1991, never losing a series, are all phenomenal feats. Viv is surely In a League of his own

Not to mention One Day Internationals, first class matches and his dominance in World Series Cricket (WSC). In WSC Viv scored 1281 runs, highest score 177, 4 centuries,  average 55.69. In addition Sir Viv's social justice message advocates for individual liberties and equality of oppurtunities, defending the masses rights against injustice Beyond a Boundary!(World Series Cricket -  player records -Wikipedia) Viv Richards- Wikipedia- Career Statistics

Preservation and Conservation
There was no filming of the laborious love, artistic and creative work of both statues manifestation. Consider the Statue of Liberty and the film that preserves the genesis of its conception for future generations. If we do not care about our history, how will we care about preservation and conservation procedure? Politicians do not care about the genesis of history, only the end result and their legacy.

So, now that the political spotlight is over, I hope that Government bend their back to the important conservation procedure of cleaning, fixing, restoring, protecting and maintaining historical monuments. Knowing how shortsighted local politicians are: I hope the need for education is pursued seriously, and that the best resource people are appointed to create heritage educational material for the benefits of all. Hopefully, Heritage Assets will be declared National Treasures and upkeep will ensure preservation for future generations.

Today's Big Idea of The Statue of Dignity is a reality, a defining moment, the Caribbean region celebrating a history of aspiration, hope and pride for this and future generations in defying the odds in politics business and social activism. But, shameless  plundering of Antigua & Barbuda economy continues to disempower the majority, IHI corruption and continuous rip-off exist! These issues continue to provoke agitation between the forces of chaos and order, individualism and community, cooperation and competition, Government procurement and economic disempowerment. Will it ever end?

Obviously, it's difficult to pinpoint anyone politician empowering the community, only raiding the country's treasury, enriching the few and pauperizing the majority.  Political authorities are our servants, we, the people are the sovereign authors and ultimate source of all Government powers.

I suspect that Sir Viv could inspire our national and regional advancement where progressive leaders are fundamentally concerned with the empowerment of all, not the enrichment of a few.

Revolutionary salutations to the Mother of our living legend Mrs Grathel Richards and family, the root of our national pride, gave birth to the revolution of change, cultural values enshrined to the Dignity of humankind, keep the legacy alive! Long live Mrs Grathel Richards.

Congratulations, to our living legend The Right Excellent National Hero Sir Isaac Vivian Richards may his statue remind us that the transformation continues:

For your dedication and leadership
We salute your courage
In advancing the cause of your people
Against all odds
Long live the celebrated years of victory
Long live
Long live

Revolutionary salutation

Reporting by Caribarena news, publishing by Ofer Shaked.

See related stories:

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

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3 Comments In This Article   


your own

#3 josephine son » 2014-03-17 00:24

when we celebration Viv we are celebrating our own.It also give the youth something to reach for.lets praise him because one of our own is the best

josephine son

An Outstanding Legacy!

#2 Dr. Isaac Newton » 2014-03-16 15:38

Hi Bombshell,

This is a historical masterpiece! Thanks for giving Sir Viv the legendary credit that he rightly merits. You have documented the genesis of the Statute of Dignity. For this you deserve 1million Cheers! Given the opportunity, you have demonstrated once again that Antiguans and Barbudans can soar to the heaven. When will this lesson be enshrined into the psyches of our political leaders? We pray soon.

Bright and sunny regards,


Dr. Isaac Newton

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

#1 Bacchus » 2014-03-16 08:11

Brother Romeo you moved me with this piece. Great work.


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