Sculptor Stephen Okeke today put his massive bust of the late “super patriot” Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson on display just inside the fence of his property that abuts the newly re-named Philip Goldson Highway.
Okeke said that he is not giving interviews to the media but it is obvious that he was calling attention to the fact that although the work was paid for by the Government of Belize in 2008, no one has ever claimed it and no effort has been made to have it properly presented and displayed.
The bronze bust itself is approximately 4 feet tall and weighs almost 600 lbs. It sits atop a 6 foot high reinforced concrete pedestal that weighs nearly a ton.
Okeke began working on the Goldson bust in 2004 after he had completed a bust of the late Rt. Hon. George Price which was installed at the George Price Center for Peace and Development in Belmopan at its inauguration on September 21st, 2002.
The George Price bust, which reportedly cost $50,000, was commissioned and paid for by a group of the late national hero’s close friends and admirers.
Okeke told the media in May 2004 that he undertook the effort to memorialize Mr. Goldson because, “Since I came to Belize a lot of Belizeans have been saying some very great things about him and so I am appealing to the public for donations to help me complete a bronze monument I am making of Phillip Goldson. Of all the great things I heard of him, I think he is a deserving national hero that deserves a monument in his memory so I have begun making it and I am appealing for help.”
The effort, however, was plagued by a lack of funding and dragged on for several years. Following its completion in 2007, Okeke installed the work in downtown Belize City on Albert Street at Market Square and controversy erupted. The Belize City Council objected to the installation, which was done without their permission, and demanded its removal.
The issue seemed to have been resolved in January 2008 when then Belize City Mayor Zenaida Moya and Mesopotamia Area Representative Michael Finnegan told the media that the bust would be installed at the Freetown Road, then Northern Highway roundabout. Shortly after that Okeke removed the installation and the bust has remained in storage in his care at his studio along the Philip Goldson Highway.
Shortly after the Barrow administration won its first term of office in February 2008, the Government of Belize purchased the work but has never taken possession of it.
Okeke has also sculpted several other signature works notably “The Citrus Man” and “The Dancing Drummer” as well as the “Drums of My Father” monument sited at the entrance to Dangriga.
San Pedro Sun