Celebrating Belize Independence, students joy in September
On Friday 15 September, I was lucky to be at St.
Martin’s Government Primary School in the country’s capital of Belmopan. I was there to talk to students about the
importance of celebrating the 36th anniversary of Belize’s Independence. The
kids were dressed in white, red and blue; the main colors of our unique Belize
At around 9 o’clock in the morning, the teachers were busy
making final adjustments to the decors of the stage. The kids were asked to
bring their chairs out to the assembly area. The sound-system blasted popular
nationalist hits like “Ya da fu we Belize”.
I was worried about what I could say to such a diverse range
of students. There were students from infant one to standard five. They represented many of Belize’s ethnic
groups such as Maya, Mestizo, Creole, and Garifuna. Many kids spoke to each
other in Spanish, which was not surprising because the school is located in
Salvapan. This was the area where many refugees and migrants settled in the
1980s following civil wars in Central American countries like Guatemala,
Salvador, and Honduras.
“O Land of the Free, By the Carib Sea…” was sung and the
entire student body stood at attention. This was followed by a National Prayer,
instituted by the Father of the Nation, the Rt. Hon. George Price, who was the
country’s eminent leader of independence.
The kids then song Happy Birthday to Belize with an
artisanal paper-craft cake dedicated to all those who proudly say “I am
I then stood up to speak to the kids. I realized that it was
much more important that I speak with them and not to them. I asked general
questions about Belize and gave small prizes away. They knew all the answers.
They knew that our independence was achieved on 21 September, 1981 and they
knew the theme for this year’s celebration was “Belize: Confronting Challenges!
Celebrating Triumphs! Renewing our Resolve!”.
My favorite moment was when I encouraged the students to say
what they would do if they were the Prime Minister of Belize. I loved the
answers: help the poor, build schools, provide freedom and improve the hospitals.
I thought these are some of the most important values of patriotism. It is our
readiness to improve the quality of life for each other which makes us
kids waved their flags excitedly. Long Live Belize! Que Viva Belice! These were
the chants heard throughout the compound and throughout the country. Many other
schools were carrying out similar patriotic rallies followed by the traditional
goodie bags given to students after they parade their neighborhoods and towns.
Hip-hip-hurray! The kids waved their flags excitedly. Long Live Belize! Que Viva Belice! These were the chants heard throughout the compound and throughout the country. Many other schools were carrying out similar patriotic rallies followed by the traditional goodie bags given to students after they parade their neighborhoods and towns.