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Bishop calls for statues of 'cruel' explorer to be removed

by Tola Mbakwe
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The Bishop of St Asaph, in Wales, has called for statues of explorer Henry Morton Stanley to be taken down. 

Stanley is known to have a large part in the European colonisation of Africa. 

He was born in Denbigh and became famous for travelling through African jungles to find Scottish explorer Dr David Livingstone, and gave him the well-known greeting: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

Rt Rev Gregory Cameron told Premier there's a "false impression" of Stanley's record and he doesn't represent anything that should be celebrated. 

"From my reading, this is a man who cooperated with King Leopold II in setting up a rather brutal industry in the Congo to make money from the production of rubber," he said. 

"He was someone who cheated African tribal leaders out of their sovereignty, and he was a man who behaved cruelly to those that he encountered.

"I'm not sure that that's the sort of person we want to celebrate in modern society. And having statues of a person is saying this person is worthy of respect, worthy of memory. 

"I recognise that for some people, things are much more mixed, that their heritage is much more debatable, but for me, here's quite a clear cut case."

One of the statues is in St Asaph City and another is in Denbigh. 

Bishop Gregory said they were erected in 2010 and 2011 and he protested against it then. He said the recent  Black Lives Matter protests encouraged him to renew vocalising his disapproval of the statues. 

In his letter to St Asaph City Council, the he wrote: "Current affairs amply demonstrate the anger and distress caused by the celebration of racist and colonialist pioneers, I would like to suggest to you that the time has come to remove the offence of this monument.

"I would like to feel that St Asaph City Council would be willing to identify with the "Black Lives Matter" campaign by making the highly symbolic gesture of putting this monument out of sight, and taking a stand for equality and diversity."

There are currently two petitions calling for the removal of the statues. 

St Asaph Cathedral also has a plaque honouring Stanley. 

According to the Daily Telegraph, Very Rev Nigel Williams, dean of the cathedral said: "The plaque is not prominent. It does not honour Stanley as a statue. Additional information alongside could provide the opportunity for visitors to properly consider issues.

Listen to Premier's interview with Bishop Gregory Cameron here:

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