Belize History Association

NEWSLETTER
Vol. 1 - Issue No. 1

December, 2016

Fostering Patriotism and Promoting Belizean History

Highlights of the 2016 BHA Lecture
Spanish Reports on the Battle of 1798: Preliminary Findings

A

s part of the 2016 September Celebrations, the
Belize History Association (BHA) and the
Institute for Social and Cultural Research
(ISCR) hosted a national lecture on 7 September 2016
entitled: “Spanish Reports on the Battle of 1798:
Preliminary Findings”.
The panel of distinguished presenters included: Dr.
Angel Cal from the University of Belize (UB), Dr.
Herman Byrd from the Belize Archives and Records
Service (BARS), Mr. Giovanni Pinelo from the
Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR) of the

National Institute of Culture and History (NICH), Dr.
Martin Ramos and Dr. Juan Castillo from the
Universidad de Quintana Roo (UQROO), and Maestro
Eduardo Montalvo Pool from the Universidad
Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo, (UIMQROO).
The presentation was based on an ongoing research of
over 1200 pages of Spanish reports which focuses on
the events surrounding the Battle of St. George’s Caye.
The lecture took place at two venues. The first was at
the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts, Belize City

Attendees at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts

(Cont’d on pg.2)

The BHA wishes to thank all the stakeholders and
attendees who made this event possible.
To learn more, visit our website at
www.belizehistoryassociation.org or give us a call at
822-3307.

Message from
BHA Chairperson
Welcome to the first issue of our
newsletter.
We are very excited to share our
first newsletter with you. Our goal
is to keep you informed about
the efforts of the Belize History
Association and to share with you
a small sampling of the story of
our beloved nation.
We believe that every Belizean is
a member of the Belize History Association.
Whether you're new to our association or
already an active member, friend or partner, our
hope is to continue to help in shaping where we
are going in our future by sharing our past story
on which our country is built.

Research panel at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts

We invite you to send us interesting historical
experiences for us to learn from.
Three newsletter issues each calendar year will
share past and present stories that make Belize
what it is. Our newsletter is just one way we can
share Belize's history. Another way is to become
active members of the Belize History Association.
Visit our website at belizehistoryassociation.org
and like us on Facebook. Stay tuned.

Dr. Abigail McKay
Editor

Full house of students at the Jaguar Auditorium, UB

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2016 BHA LECTURE
(cont’d from page 1)

from 9:30 to 11:00 in the morning. The second venue
was the Jaguar Auditorium at UB Belmopan Campus
from 2:30 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Both venues were
packed to capacity with students, teachers and members
of the general public.
On the following day, the presenters went on a tour
of St. George's Caye, through the kind sponsorship of
John Searle and his wife Linda Searle of Sea Sports
Belize.

Dr. Cal presenting at the UB Jaguar Auditorium

Fun Facts
The Three Earls in Cayo
EARL Haylock built the Low Wooden Bridge. (1970)
EARL, the Hurricane, destroyed it. (2016)
EARL Trapp, Mayor, rebuilt it. (2016)
How do you like that piece of history?
– Contributed by Joe Awe

Illustration of Spanish document

BHA Newsletter

–2–

Vol. 1 - No.1

BLAST
BLAST FROM THE
THE

PPAST
PAST

Serious questions were asked. Where will they
live? What lands will they get to cut timber on? Can we
maintain control of the Public Meeting? And more.
Early in 1787 Colonel Despard ordered the
Government Surveyor, David Lamb, to survey the
entire south side of the Haulover into lots from Rogue's
Point (where Government House is now) to about
where Richard's Sidewalk is now. Perhaps he planned to
give the lots to the evacuees. No one knows for sure.

We have found
Convention Town at last
Following the Convention of London in 1786,
over 2,000 persons, including whites, free-blacks,
free-coloureds and enslaved Africans, were evacuated
from the Mosquito Coast to the Settlement in the Bay
of Honduras. This was part of a trade-off between
Britain and Spain to end hostilities. The location
where these people settled has been a mystery to
historians. Here is an article from the Belize
Historical Society (No. 1) explaining its location:

Members Donate Books
to BHA Collection

We have found Convention Town at last.
What, you didn't even know it was lost? Well, it was
and that just goes to show how obscure Belize history
really is. Here we've had a Lost Village over a century
and you didn't even know it.
Here is the story:
Back in 1786, the British and the Spanish added
several new terms to their Treaty of 1763 (the one that
allowed the Baymen to cut logwood but did not state
where). The new agreement was called a Convention
and formed a part of the old Treaty.
Under the Convention, the Spanish agreed to allow
the Baymen to extend their logwood cutting from the
Sibun River to the Hondo River, and the British agreed
to evacuate their subjects from the Mosquito Shore.
The British appointed the first Superintendent of
the Settlement in the person of Colonel Marcus
Despard and made arrangements to transport all the
British subjects from the Mosquito Coast to Belize in
1787.
At this time there were not more than 400 people in
Belize. It was expected that 2,500 evacuees would
descend on the Settlement before the end of the year.
You can imagine the sentiments among the "old
timers". They were about to be outnumbered six to one
by the newcomers. (We've had a few Central American
refugees enter Belize over the past ten years and our
reaction has been one of serious concern, to say the
least. The Old Baymen must have been fit to be tied).
BHA Newsletter

BHA members donating books

A

t a general membership meeting on the 24th of
January 2015, four BHA members donated their
books to the BHA library collection. Mr. Fred
Hunter gifted his book entitled “The history of the sovereignty of Belize by occupation force of arms treaties” (2013).
Mr. Frantz Smith provided us with his book titled “A History
of Enterprise in Belize” (2013). Ms. Montserrat Casademunt
donated “British Honduras: The invention of a colonial
territory Mapping and spatial knowledge in the 19th century”
written by Odile Hoffmann and published by her Cubola
company. Ms. Ifasina Efunyemi presented us with “When
British Honduras became Belize: A Peace Corps Memoir,
1971-1973” (2014) donated and written by Ted Cox.
Other members have pledged to expand our collection
by donating their books to the BHA. Most recently, we
received several books by Ms. Myrna Manzanares who has
written on traditional games of Belize and short stories from
Gales Point Manatee. It is a great joy for the BHA to count with
persons who take the time to write about Belize's culture and
history and we look forward to many more works to be
published by our members.
(Cont’d on pg. 4)

–3–

(Cont’d
pg. 4)
Vol.
1 - on
No.1

MEMBERS DONATE BOOKS (cont’d from pg.3)
These publications are now available for research purposes
at the Institute for Social and Cultural Research in Belmopan,
which functions as the BHA Secretariat. You can also purchase
these books at a local bookstore or check them out at a library
near you. If you would like to purchase a signed copy from the
author, you should join us at our next general meeting!

Belize History Association
Commissions
Research & Promotion of History
1. Fred Hunter
2. Cesar Ross
3. Frantz Smith
4. Abigail McKay
5. Emily Martinez
6. Giovanni Pinelo
Social Media & Website
1. Frantz Smith
2. Brenda Armstrong
3. Yaya Marin Coleman
4. Felene Swaso
5. Montseerrat Casademunt
6. John Dunn
7. Carlos Clarke
8. Mariela Coc
9. Andre Marsden

Visit us at www.belizehistoryassociation.org

Newsletter
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

Abigail McKay
Ivory Kelly
Fred Hunter
Myrna Manzanares
Jose Perera
John Dunn
John Mena

Like us at facebook.com/belize.history.association

365-Day Calendar Project
1. Gian Vasquez
2. Jose Perera
3. Brenda Armstrong
4. Felene Swaso
5. Baldomino Barboza
6. Ifasina Efunyemi
7. Cesar Ross

Join us at our next

General Meeting
Saturday, 21 January 21 2017
Museum Building, Mountain View Blvd.
in Belmopan.

The Belize History Association (BHA)
is a non-profit organization established in 2014 to
spearhead, conduct & promote research on Belize’s history.

365 Days of Belizean History
The 365 Days of Belizean History project aims to
educate the general populace and visitors about
Belize's history. It is a collaborative effort of ISCR,
students from the History Program at UB, and
volunteers of the Belize History Association. The

Join the cause!

release of the calendar is scheduled for mid-2017.

Subscribe our newsletter and become a member at

We invite you to submit historic dates to
bha.belize@gmail.com or call 822-3307.

BHA Newsletter

www.belizehistoryassociation.org

–4–

Vol. 1 - No.1

AT THE MUSEUM
The Belize City Museum New Exhibit Opened
By DR. ABIGAIL MCKAY

T

he two year construction of the building that houses the
Belize City Museum was
completed in 1857 as a priCourtesy: Rolando Cocom son and was built with
bricks, known as “London
Entrance of Museum of Belize
Stocks” brought from
England and used as ballast on ships.
The Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation
and exhibition of scientific, historical or artistic interests.
These include the earliest stamp of Belize depicting Queen
Victoria (1837) and a well-preserved jail cell.
Located
in the Fort
George area
of Belize
City, the
Museum
provides an
excellent
overview of
the story of
Courtesy: Belize Archives
Belize. The
first floor His Majesty’s Prison, Belize, Br. Honduras
has plenty of exposed original brickwork. A historical tour
via photographs and artefacts document over 350 years of
Belize City's history and people.
On its second floor the Museum houses a permanent
exhibit of ancient
Maya artefacts,
including pottery,
ornate stelae, a replica
of the famous 'Jade
Head' and smaller,
elegant pieces of
Maya jade and stone
jewelry. There is also
Courtesy: Rolando Cocom
room for special
Present-day Museum of Belize
exhibits such as the
permanent display on Insects of Belize.
The museum opens Monday to Thursday each week from
9:00am to 5:00pm and Friday and Saturday 9:00am to
4:30pm. There is an entrance fee of $5 and on Saturdays free
to Belizeans. Children under 13 no charge. US$5 entry cost
for non-residents. The museum has a small gift shop.
References:
http://www.nichbelize.org/mob/the-museum-of-belize.html;
http://www.belizeit.com/museum-of-belize.html

BHA Newsletter

enSLAVEd
The Rise and Fall of Slavery Belize
By DR. ABIGAIL MCKAY

A

n exhibition
t i t l e d “ e nS L AV E d ”
opened at the Museum
of Belize at its Gabourel
Lane, Belize City
address on 1 August
2016 and will remain
open for an entire year.
The exhibit looks at the
Trans-Atlantic Slave
Trade and the history of
resistance in Belize.
The launch on August first coincided with Emancipation
Day as celebrated in many former British colonies within the
Caribbean and the United States in observance of the liberation of slaves of African descent.
The Belize Archives and Records Service collaborated
with the Museum of Belize. The exhibition maps the journey
of the slaves from West Africa to Jamaica in the Caribbean
from where most slaves came to the Belize Settlement, dating back to the 1800's, and where systems that were created
in the colonial past still exist today. For example, Sambai,
theorized to be ritual rhythms and dance from the African
homeland of escaped slaves, continues to be a key cultural
part of the Gales Point Manatee villagers. The call and
response harken back to a time when marooned ex-slaves
gathered together to sing and dance.
The exhibition features three major rebellions, including
the May 1820 one on the banks of the Belize River, where
forty slaves took up arms against their masters and held that
place hostage for three months.
The exhibition creates a distinct feel of what life in the
settlement may have been over two centuries ago. The
Museum of Belize remains dedicated to the promotion of
Belize's culture and history.
References:
Http://www.nichbelize.org/mob-hoc-welcome/welcometo-the-museum-of-belize-and-houses-of-culture.html;
Http://edition.channel5belize.com/archives/132836
Http://nationalkriolcouncil.org/the_kriols/dance

–5–

Vol. 1 - No.1

PEOPLE & CULTURES OF BELIZE
Bram in Gales
Point Manatee
By PHYLICIA PELAYO

B

ram is a Creole (Kriol) festivity held during the
Christmas season. Today, it is mainly carried out in
the village of Gales Point Manatee located at the
peninsula in the Southern Lagoon of the Belize District.
Hyde (2012) has indicated that Gales Point Manatee was
a secondary maroon settlement established in the 18th and
early 19th century. Bolland (2003) also references the
establishment of maroon settlements by the 1820s. Through
oral testimonies collected in Hyde's (2012) research, it is
believed that these maroons first settled in the hills and areas
surrounding Gales Point Manatee and later resettled in the
current location of the village.
Today, the village is still relatively remote and not easily
accessible by public transportation. It has largely remained a
rural settlement with a very small population of 296 persons.
The village has retained an almost homogenous ethnic
make-up with 89% of the population identifying as Kriol
according to the most recent census (Statistical Institute of
Belize, 2013). This large percentage of Creole ethnicity can
be traced to the village's early African ancestry, an ancestry
which is still reflected in the celebration of Christmas Bram.
The term 'bramming' is used to the describe participants’
involvement in the various activities of Bram merry-making,
dancing, singing and feasting (National Kriol Council,
2011). During enslavement in Belize, the Christmas season
served as the greatest opportunity for communal recreation
among slaves between long periods of working at timber
camps (Bolland, 2003). The Christmas season was an
opportunity for African groups and families to re-unite and
served as an outlet for cultural expression.
Myrna Manzanares describes Bram as “a spree
traditionally done during the Christmas season. It is an
exodus of people dancing in the streets from one house to the
next, the goal of which is merry-making by singing, dancing
and playing music at each house as a sign of good cheer”
(n.d.).
The brokdong rhythm is the type of music played during
Bram. The drummers play the traditional call-and-response
folk songs to the brokdong rhythm (National Kriol Council,
2011). The unique sound of the brokdong was created
through a mixture of household implements and musical

BHA Newsletter

instruments. Manzanares recalls that, “they use to use things
outta the house, I remember as a child they take the comb and
they put like a lil silver paper on it… and they blow it and
make music, they use to have the grater and you get a fork and
you rub that together…that make music” (2014).Today, this
is rarely seen and is a practice that would be found only
among the community elders only.
According to Emmeth Young, a lead bram musician, “in
ancient times, earlier times, we use to use the accordion
because we had people here that played the accordion, and
the banjo,” (2013). However, this has changed. He is now
one of the few remaining musicians in the country with the
traditional knowledge and craftsmanship skills to make the
Kriol drums.

Drummers performing at Christmas Bram
Another component of the celebration is the sambai,
which is a fertility dance originally held during a full moon. It
is danced in the form of a ring around a fire, which is seen as a
symbol of virility (Hyde, 2012). In the past, the sambai was
done from the month of November leading up to the days of
the Christmas Bram. Today, the sambai has merged with the
Bram and is mainly done during Christmas night.
There are many other aspects of the Christmas Bram that
need to be recorded. Residents from the Belize River Valley
have also said that Bram was an integral part of the Christmas
celebrations in places such as Burrell Boom and Willows
Bank. This means that there is a need for more of us to sit
down and talk with our elders to record the splendid history
and traditions of Belize.
References: Bolland, O. N. (2003). Colonialism and
Resistance in Belize: Essays in Historical Sociology.
(Cont’d on pg.7)

–6–

Vol. 1 - No.1

RICANE EXPER
R
U
H
IENCE
MY
By JOSE R. PERERA

M

Y first experience with a hurricane came on
the thirtifirst day of October 1961 - 55 years
ago. She was named Hattie. I was 11 years of
age at the time. I can recall that afternoon, after being
excused from regular classes at Holy Redeemer Boys’
School, along with two equally inquisitive schoolmate-

beyond. Where the sea and the sky met was hardly
noticeable, as everything looked the same dull yellow.
In later years I got to understand the phenomenon. The
yellow afternoon sun was straining its light through an
overcast sky and created the effect in the cloud cover
which was, in turn, reflected on the calm sea. At the time
we boys weren’t concern with the unusual coloring of
the sea and atmosphere. We came to see some action but
there was none. We then quietly left for our respective
homes.

Damaged Belize City Swing Bridge

friends, our curiousity whizzed us to Newtown
Barracks on the coast of Belize City to observe the sea
and its environs. We looked out to sea with expectant
awe to report to the world but we were so disappointed.
Even today, I could clearly remember the sea. It was
a calm, dull yellow, all the way to the horizon and
PEOPLE & CULTURES OF BELIZE
(Cont’d from pg. 6)
Benque Viejo del Carmen: Cubola Productions.
Hyde, R. (2012). Stone Baas People: An Ethnohistorical
Study of Gales Point Manatee Community. Journal of
Belizean Studies Vol. 31 No.2 , 8-66.
Manzanares, M. (2014, December). (P. Pelayo,
Interviewer)
Manzanares, M. (n.d.). All to the Sound of Brokdong.
Retrieved June 20, 2014, from Belizean Journeys:
http://www.belizeanjourneys.com/features/brokdong/news
letter.html
National Kriol Council. (2011). Bram and Brokdong.
Retrieved June 23, 2015, from National Kriol Council:
http://nationalkriolcouncil.org/the_culture/dance
Statistical Institute of Belize. (2013). Belize Population
and Housing Census.
Young, E. (2013, December 26). (M. Manzanares, S. Solis,
& G. Pinelo, Interviewers)

BHA Newsletter

Graph showing track of ‘61 Hurricane and its
3-names viz. Hurricane Hattie, TSs. Simone & Inga.

Later, at home, I can remember bringing up some
groceries and stuff from our grocery store from downstairs to our upstairs residence. That was to be a lifesaving move on the part of my parents. My dad had
boarded up the windows of our shop and home so we
gathered our necessities and moved out to shelter at
Maestre’s building on Cleghorn Street. (Cont’d on pg.11)

–7–

Courtesy: ambergriscaye.com

Vol. 1 - No.1

Builders of Belize
Vivian Seay (1881-1971)

Joseph Alexander Bennett

By DR. ABIGAIL MCKAY

(1929-

S

ervice: Entering the pupil-teacher system as a
teenager Vivian Seay taught in British Honduras and
just across the border in Xcalak, Mexico. She
volunteered during the influenza epidemic crisis of late
1918-1919, led the Black Cross Nurses of the UNIA in a
1920 survey of Belize Town's poor neighborhoods where
infant mortality was high, and led the care and cleanup in the
aftermath of the 1931
hurricane. A Belize City
street is named in Vivian
Seay's honor and she has
been featured on a Belizean
postage stamp
Leadership: Vivian Seay
founded the Black Cross
Nurses by March 1920 and successfully advocated for
formal Black Cross Nurses' training in maternal and infant
health. In 1933, as a member of the Town Board, Vivian Seay
proposed an Employment Bureau for unemployed women
and helped create a fund to distribute groceries to deserving
families. In 1934, she spoke in favor of legalizing divorce
and unsuccessfully proposed a Women's Land Settlement
Scheme to move 50 single mothers out of Belize Town onto
their own farms. In 1935, she called for women's voting age
to be the same as men's voting age at 21 years to ensure
women would not be discriminated based on age. She cofounded the National Party in 1951 and the British Honduras
Federation of Women in 1952. She co-led the 1961-62 Save
Our Country movement that unsuccessfully challenged the
name change of September tenth to “National Day.”
References:
Herrmann, Eleanor Krohn. (1980). “Black Cross Nursing in
Belize: A Labour of Love,” Belizean Studies 8:2
Ministry of Health. (1985). Origins of Tomorrow: A History of
Belizean Nursing Education. Belize.
Macpherson, Anne S. (2003). “Colonial Matriarchs: Garveyism,
Maternalism, and Belize's Black Cross Nurses, 1920-1952,”
Gender and History 15:3 (November): 507-527
----- (2007). From Colony to Nation: Women Activists and the
Gendering of Politics in Belize, 1912-82. Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press.

B

orn in Belize Town on 14
March 1929, Joseph
Alexander Bennett spent
his early employment years as a
pupil teacher at Holy Redeemer
Boys School, having successfully
passed a First Teachers' Exam. After
attaining his First Class Teacher's
Certificate, he ran the small school at
San Pablo Village, Orange Walk, for
three years before returning to Belize City studies to obtain
his Catholic Management –provided secondary school
certificate at St. John's College and teacher training professional qualifications in less than four years. He taught
primary education in Succotz, Cayo, for one year before
becoming part of the teacher training team for Catholic
teachers at St. John's College. Two years later, Mr. Bennett
successfully completed a first degree at the University of the
West Indies in History, Economics and Spanish.
Upon his return to Belize, Mr. Bennett worked at Belize
Teachers' College and eventually was given the task of
getting the Junior Secondary School established. This meant
he had responsibility to plan the whole academic programme
for the school, along with the teaching staff that he helped to
identify. He led the Belize Junior Secondary School Number
One, for three years then left Belize in 1971 on a United
Kingdom Scholarship to pursue a 3-year advanced education
course. Upon his return, he worked as an Education Officer
on curriculum matters, first at St. Mary's School and then at
the Curriculum Unit at the Belize Teachers' College campus
until his retirement.
(Extracted from the BAAS 2016 Author's Biographical Profile.)

Fun Facts
What is history?
History is like fishing. The type of fish that is caught
depends partly on chance and on the area where one
goes to fish. The fisherman (and fisher-women) may
release the fish until they find one to their liking. The fish
is then cleaned, cooked, and served for consumption.

“If you want the skills to unlock mysteries,
tools to think critically, and the background to pursue teaching, law, public
service, or academia, then join the pack
and study History at UB!”

Remember too that “Fishaman neba seh ih fish stink” and
“Wen fish kohn frahn riba-batam ahn tel u haligeta gah
pain-a-bellyie, belieeve ahm”!
Reference:Carr, E. H. (1961). What is history? Houndmills: Palgrave

—Rolando Cocom (2011, UB)
BHA Newsletter

–8–

Vol. 1 - No.1

To save me with your love
To save me with your dignity
To save me with your honesty
To save me with your patriotism
By telling my story
To your children
And their children
And their children
Preserving me, BELIZE
With all my rich diversities

Spoken Word
A Nation Worth Saving
(Excerpt)
I am Belize
Balisi Nuguya
Inen lah Belice
La in ah Belis
Yo soy Belice
Me da Belize.
A young and vibrant nation
On the coast of the Caribbean
In the heart of Central America
The pulse between two worlds.

For you
And you
Forever
And ever
And ever...
By: Myrna A Manzanares

Oh how proud to know
I am known the world over.
Known for my wonders of land and sea.
Known for my people's hospitality.
Yes - I am proud that my ancestors
Had the courage to struggle on
And gave me life
In spite of all adversities.

Selected poems from The Healing Circle, coming soon!

Belize Dah Fih We
Down the street, I see a crowd
Not too far, all singing loud.
It is our September Celebrations
A legacy in its name
That must be given its due right fame.

Now today you see me flourishing
Amid the torn and tattered world
flourishing in the splendor
Of my people
Who proudly boast the rich colors
Colors to be proud of colors from
Our magnificent dynasty
Black like zericote
Brown like mahogany
Red like rosewood
And white like cedar.

In awe I watched as each and every race
All hand in hand, scream and shout
"The fight has been won and Belize is now a free
land!”
Being Belizeans proud and true
They gallantly march in their red,
white and blue.
I smile as I hear them scream,
"Belize dah fih we!"
"Every inch of it!"
“Every grain of sand!”
"Every blade of grass!"

Yes MY people
Those that have gone before me
who fought to free me
And gave me wings to spread,
You of today
Three hundred and fifty thousand strong
And counting . . .
You who have the power in your hands
To give me away
To sell me
To betray me
To ravage me
To destroy me
You who have the power in your hands
To mold my future
To protect me, to save me

BHA Newsletter

So together we stand, all united as one,
Hand in hand,
The Mestizos, Orientals, Creoles, and Garifunas too!
Joined as many faces
One dream
One goal
Ready to be pursued.
By: Azizi J. Hoy

–9–

Vol. 1 - No.1

BHA IN ACTION

BHA awards logo winners

BHA promotes authors

Belmopan turnout

A close encounter...

Learning about our culture

BHA Executive Meeting

BHA Newsletter

–10–

Vol. 1 - No.1

MY HURRICANE EXPERIENCE
(cont’d from pg.7)

Courtesy: Belize Archives

We were excited at the prospect of sheltering at
Maestre’s because once before when we had a storm
alert, we went there and it was like a family reunion.
Maestre’s Industries Ltd. was a cigarette factory where
an uncle was supervisor so the families of staff members
were allowed to shelter there. It was an adventure to be
together with fellow boy cousins of mine (there were
five of us) and their families once more. We explored
the whole building
and visited the community of fellow
“residents” at the
shelter. Everyone
was settled in
assigned spaces on
the floor of office
rooms and corridors.
There was wall-towall bedding in
some places. It was
like outdoor camping except it was indoors.
After our
Tractor used in clearing streets
“ramping” (rompin aftermath of hurricane
ing) we settled on a
ledge of the upstairs
floor and joined my dad and others to observe how
water on the bottom floor was slowly rising. At first it
was fun, but when it kept rising and began to cover my
dad’s car which was parked on the bottom floor along
with others, I got sad. Eventually the vehicles got completely covered.
I was concerned, yet impressed with the volume of
water that looked so clear and inviting inside a building.
It was the first time that I have ever seen such a sight.
Being boys, we tried to touch the rising waters with our
feet from the ledge where we were. I remember the time
was about ten at night and it was quiet except for the
sound of the radios coming from the floors. Most lights
were out so we all turned in to sleep on “field beds”.
Sometime later I was awaken by my mom and the
sound of whistling winds on the outside. She led me to a
window and shone the light from a flashlight into the
weather. Wind and elements were whizzing by but still
grouchy from sleep, I returned to my comforts on the
floor.
I don’t recall exactly the time but it must have been
about one in the early morning when I was “rudely”
awakened by loud howling and crashing sounds. The
wind outside sounded like the clash of a thousand wild
BHA Newsletter

tigers. Suddenly the glass windows on the north side of
the building exploded like the barrage from canons. The
wooden planks on barricaded windows were overcome.
Breaking glass fragments shot through the air and
crashed about. There was a rush as people sheltering on
that side of the building, including my family, were
moved to an opposite wing. We settled down among
bails of tobacco. I remember seeing men fighting with
the storm, now indoors, to close the broken windows.
The building shook and shuddered as huffs and
puffs kept coming, seemingly forever. I tried to sleep.
The angry storm kept up its onslaught right into the
early light of day. Gradually the weather diminished
into a rainy, whistling and chilly morn.
About six in the morning one of my cousins, all
excited, shook me awake. He led me up some stairs to
the attic of the building. My other cousins were already
there along with a man, Mr. Pepitune, who was taking
movie pictures through an opening in the roof where
some roofing had blown away. I stood at the opening
and looked out.
The image that I saw from that roof would forever
stay recorded in the seat of my mental faculties. We all
got suddenly speechless as we observed a scenario of
total devastation. It was mental shock.
To me it
Courtesy: Belize Archives l o o k e d l i k e
Belize City had
sunk into the sea.
The sight of the
boats and barges
floating around
on top of buildings and waves
striking against
Canal-side streets covered in ruins
structures
seemed unreal.
Large wooden vats were being carried about. The
waters were covered in a sea of debris. It was total
chaos. Surviving dogs and even mice were floating
around on planks and pieces of wood.
We stayed in the shelter for a couple more days with
enough food. The meat and water from gathered coconuts from the flood waters was welcomed sustenance.
Being the eldest of five siblings, it fell on me to
accompany my dad through the ruins to find food. Our
Handyside street house was fine except for a missing
back door and some roofing. The rest of our relatives
weren’t so lucky, so they took up residence at our house.
My mother, fellow siblings and myself were spared
further experience of the aftermath when a couple of my
uncles from Puerto Cortes, Honduras came to our rescue and took us away. Only my dad stayed behind.

–11–

Vol. 1 - No.1

Events of
Interest
1798 BATTLE OF ST. GEORGE’S CAYE
The Battle of St. George’s Caye, was a military
confrontation between the Spaniards and the
Settlers of what is known today as Belize. The
battle lasted from 3 September to 10 September
1798. It resulted in the Spaniards’ defeat.
1981 INDEPENDENCE DAY
On 21 September, 1981 Belize became a
sovereign nation after being a British Crown
Colony since 1862. Independence Day marks
the crowning achievement of the collective
efforts of a national movement.

November 2016
! The Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project hosted a Social
Studies and History Competition in November
2016 for standard five primary school students
of Belize City. 1st, 2nd & 3rd places were won
respectively by Hazey Perez from St. Mary’s
Anglican, Jayden August from Holy Redeemer,
and Keylen Moralez from Unity Presbyterian.
(See pic left to rt.) BHA members Mariela Coc
and Cesar Ross supported this event.

1821 FIRST SEAL OF BELIZE SETTLEMENT

“The Arms of the Settlement” was resolved on
and prayed for by the Public at their meeting, the
2 November, 1819. The first seal of the
settlement was received on 5 March, 1821.
1990 BUST OF THOMAS VINCENT RAMOS
UNVEILED IN DANGRIGA
To honor the Garifuna legend, T.V. Ramos, a
bust was erected on 3 November, 1990, at the
apex of Front and Commerce Street in
beautiful Dangriga.

December 2016
! The Belize Creole Brokdong Project is training
Belizean youth to play, dance and sing brokdong music the way Mr. Peters did. Their first
public performances were held on 15 and 16
December at Battle Field Park in Belize City.
January 2017
! Join the Belize History Association for their upcoming General Meeting on Saturday January
21, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. at the Museum Building
on Mountain View Blvd. Belmopan. There will
be a special presentation by Ambassadors
Stuart Leslie and James Murphy from the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
February 2017
! The Street Art Festival is an annual event held
on the last Saturday of February. It will be held
on 25 January 2017 on Albert Street in downtown Belize City. There will be a variety of
cultural food, paintings, sculptures, fashion,
drama, and live entertainment. BHA members
will join you at this event.

Belize History Association
NEWSLETTER
Produced by the
Newsletter Commission Members:
Dr. Abigail McKay
Ivory Kelly
Jose Perera
Myrna Manzanres

BHA Newsletter

Fred Hunter
Carlos Clarke
John Dunn
John Mena

From us at the

Belize History Association
–12–

Vol. 1 - No.1