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Foggo condemns Mary Prince Day ‘negativity’

  • Lovitta Foggo, the community minister (File photograph)

Opposition to the renaming of Somers Day to honour a Bermudian hero of the abolition of slavery movement in Britain was “mind boggling”, a government minister has said.

Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, said that the planned change to the second day of the annual Cup Match holiday in favour of Mary Prince over Admiral Sir George Somers, whose shipwreck off Bermuda in 1609 led to British settlement, was appropriate.

Ms Foggo added the change, part of a legislative amendment tabled in the House of Assembly last month, had sparked “negativity” online.

She said: “The fact that people do not want to celebrate this, or look at this in any negative light, is disappointing.”

She also said: “I would think, because history belongs to all of us, this is something all persons would want to celebrate. When you look at the UK and European countries, with all their villains and heroes, they know their complete history.

“I find it mind-boggling when we have an effort to recognise a very important piece of history by naming the second day of Cup Match after someone who was so pivotal, given the whole purpose behind Cup Match.

“I wonder why there would be anyone who is not accepting of this.”

The change, scheduled to come into force next year, will pay tribute to Ms Prince, a former slave whose autobiography, published in 1831, helped the case of abolitionists in the UK, where slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834.

The end of slavery is marked by Emancipation Day, the first day of Cup Match.

A survey launched by the ministry in December for public views on how to improve race relations ended on January 31.

Ms Foggo said submissions were being examined.

She added: “I promised on the floor of the House of Assembly that we would look at the data and use it to help shape how we continue to address issues of race relations. We will get back to the public in terms of our next steps.”

A ministry spokeswoman thanked “all members of the community who reached out to offer their views on how to bridge our differences”.

Ms Foggo added the public holiday legislation also moved the Bermuda Day holiday from the last Friday in May to the Friday before the final Monday of May.

She said the “No 1” reason was to bring the long weekend closer to the United States Memorial Day holiday, observed on the last Monday in May.

Ms Foggo said: “That would encourage people to take a quick trip to the island.”