PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — Tomorrow at 10 am, in a ceremony involving the Port-of-Spain City Corporation and the South African High Commission, King George V Park will be renamed the Nelson Mandela Park, says Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, Tim Kee said the decision was made by the corporation’s 16-member council, and not by himself.
Asked if there were any consultations about the renaming of the park, he said, “I don’t know what consultation we have to do. I spoke to many people around the area about the initiative and they were all gung-ho about it.”
Asked if he thought a town meeting should have been called to discuss the plan, he said, “I didn’t have to do that, because council made the decision. The corporation is the owner of the property and the councilors made the decision. Now if residents had said, ‘No,’ what will I do now?”
Tim Kee said renaming the park after the late former South African president was a befitting way to honor the world icon.
“Mandela has changed the whole world. He was referred to as the man of the century and surely the best way to honor him is not by naming an animal in the zoo or an aircraft after him. King George V had his place, but change has to take place,” he said. But Tim Kee said the commemorative stone at the southwest corner of the park bearing the name King George V Park would remain.
Tim Kee added he considered it disrespectful to question the move to name the park after the South African freedom fighter. “I am sure the South African ambassador, on hearing that Mandela’s name is being questioned, would think that it’s disrespectful,” he said. He said a sign with the name of Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5, will be unveiled at the ceremony tomorrow.
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