Sunday, 20 March 2011

Henry Morton Stanley statue unveiled

A statue of Victorian journalist and explorer, Henry Morton Stanley was unveiled in Denbigh, North Wales, on March 17 . The life-size bronze portrays him at the moment he found fellow adventurer Dr David Livingstone - arm outstretched, hat by his side and presumably uttering some memorable words. Residents of the town voted in favour of commemorating its most famous son and £31,000 was raised to pay for sculptor Nick Elphick's statute.
Of course Stanley always claimed to be American but he was actually born John Rowlands and brought up in Denbigh's St Asaph workhouse. He emigrated to the US in 1859.

Not surprisingly, the statue has proved to be controversial. Many in the town are proud of the explorer and feel he's had a bad press, being misrepresented both by the Victorian establishment and latter day historians. However, at the unveiling of the statue, Selwyn Williams, a lecturer at Bangor University, representing
opponents of the memorial, told reporters: "Stanley was one of the cruellest Victorian expeditionary surveyors. Needless to say all the statutes of Stanley in Africa have been taken down a long time ago. They (Stanley and King Leopold II of Belgium) turned the Congo into the worst example of colonisation, brutal exploitation, enslavement and genocide in Africa. I'm sure most Welsh people share the view that Stanley's 'exploitation by warfare' in Africa was contemptible."

Tim Jeal, author of
Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer unveiled the statue and wrote about the day in the Daily Telegraph. And talking of Stanley statues, it's about a year ago since it was reported that there were moves afoot to restore a memorial to the explorer in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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