The unveiling of One Tété Lohkay’s statue on Emancipation Day 2006.
CAY HILL–A symbol of St. Maarten’s fortitude in the face of adversity, missing for more than a year, has been found. The statue dedicated to legendary heroine One-Tété Lohkay that stood at the Cay Hill roundabout has been located at the home of her sculptor.
The statue, showing the heroine in flight, faced down the powerful gales of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 and was bent, but not broken. The statue was removed a few months after the hurricanes and was never returned to her pedestal. She appeared to have been forgotten and unmissed.
Infrastructure Minister Miklos Giterson was asked in the Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday whether he knew where the One Tété Lohkay statue was. He could not give an answer, nor could any other minister, including Culture Minister Wycliffe Smith, present for the press briefing.
Giterson made enquiries about the statue’s whereabouts after the question from The Daily Herald. He then learned that the statue had been taken to the sculptor’s house for restoration. It appears that One-Tété Lohkay, in her statue form, almost lost one of her legs. Restoration still has to be completed.
According to legend, One Tété Lohkay was a young woman or perhaps a girl who was enslaved on a plantation in St. Maarten. However, being a slave was not for her; she rebelled and ran away from her owners.
One-Tété Lohkay was hunted down by the plantation owners, recaptured and brought back to the plantation. As punishment for her defiance and as a warning to other slaves, the slave masters ordered that one of her breasts be cut off. That is how she became known as One-Tété Lohkay.
The missing statue was sculpted by Nigeria-born St. Maarten resident Michael Maghiro. It depicted One Tété Lohkay running with a bundle of sugarcane sticks on her shoulder. If you look closely, you can see that one side of her chest is deformed.
There had been efforts to relocate the statute to the top of Cole Bay Hill as a symbol of her survival in the hills, especially the high ridges above Cul de Sac. Cultural activist Shujah Reiph has been quoted as saying, “We need to put Lohkay on the top of the mountain where she deserves to be.”
Lasana Sekou described her in his book National Symbols of St. Martin as “a kindred spirit to many, for she is the Nanny of Jamaica, Queen Mary and Bottom Belly of the Virgin Islands, the Harriet Tubman of the USA, and other champions of freedom who have burst the chains of slavery and dealt mortal blows to the plantation and its rulers.”
The statue was unveiled by then-Commissioner of Culture Louie Laveist on Emancipation Day 2006. July 1 was not yet even a holiday at the time.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/88272-update-one-tete-lohkay-found-at-her-sculptor-s-house