Sculptor Stephen Okeke has been battling for over a year to receive what he is owed for the completed bust of Garifuna hero Thomas Vincent Ramos, now on display in Dangriga. And it appears he will not be getting it from former Dangriga area representative Ivan Ramos who has well documented financial problems. But Okeke does have to pay his costs and now he is making an outreach to the Belizean people to help him out. He has done it before with previous sculptures of Philip Goldson and Antonio Soberanis, but these ended up being paid for, and with no resolution in sight Okeke began his public campaign today on Albert Street in Belize City. He told PLUS News more about it.
“It has been good so far, people have made pledges already and you can see a lot of people do not understand what is going on. So those who have come around, had thought this had settled and a lot of Belizeans who have come around are very embarrassed that this is still going on. They thought it had been settled a long time because it should have been settled long time.
Aaron Humes – Plus TV Reporter
“Are they embarrassed for you or for Mr. Ramos?”
“They are embarrassed of themselves, they are embarrassed of Belizeans, they are embarrassed for the entire nation and embarrassed for the Garifuna people that the Garifuna people are worthy enough and willing to do enough to be able to solve this. Since it hasn’t been resolved so far, they are confused as to why it has taken so long and confused that – it seems that both the nation and the community does not put value on what they say they put value on. That is, the history of Belize, honoring the Belizean heroes, honoring Belizean icons, making young people interested in the history of Belize and giving young people a model of what it is to be Belizean.
“How much longer are you going to continue this Out here and… ?
“I will be here for a week if it is necessary. Then, I will be going on to other districts if it is necessary but we have to keep doing this until we get the funds.”
If you are having trouble reconciling why the Belizean people should chip in for something Okeke made and should have been paid for in a private transaction, we did too. Okeke’s answer is that Ramos should have never borne the burden alone.
“Well, I have the right to purse that claim because we have a legally binding agreement. I would say that it is not the best thing to do that. In fact, if I do ahead and purse that claim – even though a lot of Belizeans may not realize it right now, it is an insult to the intelligence of all Belizeans that no one seems to understand that the grandson of the great Belizean national icon, TV Ramos, should not be the one who pays for an ornament to say thank you to his grandfather for what he did for Belizeans and for Garifuna people in particular.
“Some will also say that since he took possession for the bust and made the understanding that he will pay for it, he should be made to pay for it.”
“Unfortunately, it is unfortunate that he had to make that first step. It is unfortunate that he had to do that. He is the grandson of TV Ramos. TV Ramos – do we really understand who the man is to Belizeans and to the Garifuna people? This should have been done a long time ago for him. It hadnt been done and he had to do it on behalf of the nation and on behalf of the Garifuna people and because he rolled the ball, we expect him to be hurt. Yes I should purse my money and sue him until I sue him out of his pants, but it would be insulting the intelligence of Belizeans, that no Belizean understand this concept.”
Okeke will be heading to Dangriga next week to drum up support there. He is also waiting on responses from Ramos’ successor Frank “Pawpa” Mena and Dangriga Mayor Francis Humphreys.