THE PRIME Minister has said that a community discussion is needed to decide the fate of the Christopher Columbus statue in Port of Spain.
There have been recent calls by a number of sectors, including former Port of Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing, political party Movement for Social Justice, indigenous peoples the Warao nation, and a petition with thousands of signatures organised by activist group Cross Rhodes Freedom Project and laid in Parliament to have the statue of the famous Italian navigator removed from Columbus Square, Port of Spain.
Dr Rowley addressed the issue on Friday in his feature address to make the opening of the Bagatelle Community Centre in Diego Martin.
He recalled that former Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert in his earlier speech spoke about the history of Diego Martin including that it was named after Spanish explorer Don Diego Martin.
"As I was writing this (speech) I was wondering if we would have to change the name. You know the thing these days with Spaniards who came here and named things."
Rowley said that the history of Diego Martin will be put into a booklet so that children can read it and know where Diego Martin came from and where they came from and that history is important. He quoted French West Indian philosopher Frantz Fanon who said that to ignore the past is to surrender the future.
"And we don't ever want to surrender our future so we always have to, if not hold on to the past that we have on some things, we need to know the past."
He said there has been a conversation in TT about what names to throw away and what statues to pull down. He added that history is a changing tapestry and nothing remains the same.
"Columbus has gone a long time ago; let's not fight over a statue. If we are no longer prepared to accept a colonial relic or anything that's in our midst then let's just look at it civilly and decide on whether he should be on a pedestal in Port of Spain or in a museum."
He stressed, however, that no textbook could be written for children and exclude that Columbus had an impact on this country. Rowley said he did not agree with mob rule but there must be change with information whether the history was good, bad or indifferent.
He promised after the election to have a community conversation on the matter in a sane and civil way.