Cecile Nobrega
Cecile Nobrega
The Bronze woman
CECILE NOBREGA (1919 – 2004)  
“Find me a place in the sun, in the sea, on a rock, near an Isle”, is the opening salvo of a poem written in 1968 by Cecile Nobrega. The poem was titled “The Bronze Woman” and celebrates the women of the Caribbean.

Cecile Nobrega’s poem would also inspire the first public statue of a Black woman in the UK. The 10-foot bronze statue of a woman holding a child was unveiled in 2008 as part of the 60th anniversary commemorating the arrival of the Empire Windrush. The money for the statue was raised by Olmec, a community investment foundation, who raised £84,000 funding and found the sculptors and a location for the statue. A model of the statue was first designed by sculptor Ian Walters, who also created the Nelson Mandela statue in Parliament Square in 2005. Following his death in August 2006 the project was completed by Aleix Barbat, a sculpture student at Heatherley's School of Fine Art in London.

The sculpture, a physical representation of the Bronze Woman poem, was created to symbolise the strength and resilience of women as mothers, their essence as nurturers, and future aspirations for their families and themselves. The statue proudly stands in a Lambeth Park known as Stockwell Memorial Gardens, a stone’s throw away from where Cecile lived.

As well as an accomplished poet, Cécile Nobrega was also an educator, poet, playwright, and classical composer. She was born Cecile Burgan in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1919. Her parents were William Granville Burgan and Imelda Burgan. The former was the Canon of several Anglican churches in East Demerara where Cecile spent her formative years, before eventually travelling and working in a number of different countries around the world. She eventually came to Britain in 1968, and settled in Lambeth, where in 2004, she passed away aged 84.

On 1st June 2019, exactly 100 years to the day Cecile Nobrega was born, a blue heritage plaque was installed on her former home in Lambeth, only a few hundred yards away from the Bronze Woman Statue.

Location: Lee Samuel House 10 Nealden Street SW4 9QX

We feel very privileged to be present at the unveiling of this plaque from the Nubian Jak Trustees, honouring an outstanding Guyanese woman. Eve Nobrega (daughter - on behalf of the family).

A truly remarkable sister of Guyana who set the bar for high-achieving women from Guyana and the Caribbean in general. UK High Commissioner for Guyana, H.E. Frederick Hamely Case.

Unveiling a blue plaque today is a wonderful and fitting tribute to Cecile Nobrega, who worked so hard to ensure recognition for all women and their contribution to society; but, especially for those who are underrepresented and from the underdeveloped world. Mayor of Lambeth, Cllr Ibrahim Dogus.

Cecile Nobrega was an inspiration to women of the world. Proud and defiant as the Bronze Woman she so aptly describes in her poem and so positively projected through the beautiful statue in Stockwell Memorial Gardens. Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, Cllr Sonia Winifred.

It is fitting that Nubian Jak is erecting a plaque in honour of this inspirational African woman, one of the most outstanding of her generation, who helped to change Britannia through her cultural creativity and activism. Given the lamentable representation of black people in post-war British history, one hopes that the plaque would motivate this and future generations to learn more about Cecile and her rounded contribution to education, art and culture in Britain. Professor Gus John

It is said that “nothing never happens before the time”. What a compliment to the Bronze Woman Monument and a lasting legacy to Our Stalwart Woman of the Caribbean - Mother Cecile Nobrega. I feel so very proud of this fitting tribute. Sister Empress Jai.

Location: Lee Samuel House, 10 Nealden Street, London, SW4 9QX