Historian criticises vote to keep controversial H.M Stanley statue
A historian has criticised a vote to keep a controversial statue of H.M Stanley in the town of Denbigh.
Dr Simon Brooks, author of Hanes Cymry, the first history of ethnic diversity in the Welsh-language community, has described the decision as “disappointing”.
The academic argued that the statue has “no historical value” and that the “man himself is not worthy of public remembrance”.
He suggested that the town should have had it “removed and replaced by a figure who represents the culture of Dyffryn Clwyd”.
A vote on the matter was taken by Denbigh Town Council on Friday 15 October and Saturday 16 October in the Town Hall.
In total, a 471 Denbigh residents voted, with 80%, voting for the statue to stay, and 20%, voting for it to be removed. The Town Council has has decided that the statue will stay in place on that basis.
In response to the vote Dr Brooks said: “The statue has no historical value, being little more than a folly for the tourism trade. The man himself is not worthy of public remembrance. It should have been removed and replaced by a figure who represents the culture of Dyffryn Clwyd. Disappointing.”
Many locals in the town have welcomed the news that the statue will stay where it is.
Adam Houston said: “Let’s hope that’s an end to it and things can get back to normal.”
Kevin Ringer said: “Result for common sense. We shouldn’t judge the past with the standards of today because I doubt we’d measure up to the standards of the future.”
Trevor Roberts said: “Good to see that the good people of Denbigh have shown that they have common sense, a virtue sadly missing in many places.”
Clive Jones said: “It’s a statue , I can assure u there are much more pressing and important issues that need urgent attention.”
Rhodri Morris said: “Weeks on end of posts about this bloody statue and the remove vote gets 20%. Either way I’m hoping for some peace and quiet from this crap now.”
David Haydock said: “What is evident from the result is that over 90% (approx.) of the voting population of Denbigh don’t care if the statue is there or not!”
Henry Morton Stanley is immortalised for his famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume” after finding the Scottish explorer on the shores of Lake Tanganyika where he had been lost in central Africa.
However, Stanley’s association with European imperialism, particularly the Belgian King Leopold II, led to objections during a period when the Black Lives Matters movement led national protests.
King Leopold II committed acts of appalling inhumanity against the population of the Congo Free State – now the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, his supporters say Stanley was not working for the Belgian despot when the atrocities occurred and he has been unfairly tainted.
The decade-old statue, created by artist Nick Elphick, was already the target of protests. Artist Wanda Zyborska has held a performance where the statue is covered up in a rubber sheath, to protest against what she claims is its continued ‘toxic’ effect.
But the statue came under renewed scrutiny following the Black Lives Matter protests, with a petition begun in June of last year asking for its removal drawing over 7,000 signatures.