There is a saying in life, “When you are a child, you digest what your elders tell you”.
It’s that time again when we will start to sing Hip Hip Hurrah! Hip Hip Hurrah! May the glory of the Baymen never fade, as we march and wave our flags today!
Growing up in the Seventies and earlier part of the Eighties, September was the month: a favorite part of the celebrations was marching with your school and had to pass Government House where the Governor, along with other Government officials, would wave to us as we paraded by, and whilst we were parading, we would hum or sing under our breath this famous line, “We are marching today for cake and lemonade, as we are celebrating our day, it was the 10th day of September when history was made.”
I think Christmas and September actually come close in being the party months, but because of more days to celebrate, I believe September would have been the celebration month which we Belizeans would enjoy more.
If we look back in history, I think a lot of questions need to be answered, especially about this “Battle of St. George’s Caye” in which we glorify the Baymen. Did a battle really happen? Did slaves and masters really fight shoulder to shoulder? These questions need some serious research.
According to the British version of 1898, a civilian by the name of Simeon Lamb decided to approach the colonial masters to glorify the mother country in claiming all was well with the slaves and masters in British territory and resurrect the September 10, 1798 episode.
But are we forgetting, why did it take a hundred years after a so-called Battle to glorify it? If we go back in history, we need to do a little arithmetic; slavery was abolished in 1838 in British territories. The Centenary nonsense evolved 50 years later by Simon Lamb, who was a strong supporter of Garveyism, which was founded by Marcus Garvey, the great black leader who was fighting for the rights of Black people.
How can Simon Lamb, who had strong ties to Marcus Garvey and the UNIA, all of a sudden decided to glorify colonial masters, whom they were fighting? It has been recorded that Emancipation Day used to be a big celebration in British Honduras — no Centenary talk was the go in those times. Black people used to celebrate their day.
In the British Caribbean, Emancipation Day has been always huge in celebrating, and probably British Honduras or the British Settlement, as it was known in those times, probably had huge parades. In fact, in reading a local newspaper, one columnist wrote: “My mother told me that when the midwife delivered me at a home on Pickstock Street, the midwife told the mother that she wondered who made the most noise — was it she screaming, or the noise from the Emancipation Day parade that was passing by?” This statement proves that Emancipation Day was huge in Belize and now the British are glorifying the Baymen instead of a real celebration of Emancipation Day.
We Belizeans need to resurrect Emancipation Day. We need to demand of our representatives to pass a law in the House to make August 1st a national holiday and get rid of Pan American Day, and even this Battle of St. George’s Caye myth.
I do believe that an attempt by the Spaniards was made, but no battle was fought. And that was the last attempt by Spain, who then occupied Mexico, to invade us.
(Ed. NOTE: You must surely be thinking of the Fifties and Sixties instead of the “Seventies and earlier part of the Eighties …” Again, your linking Simon Lamb with Garveyism needs to be documented, because Mr. Lamb was prominent in the last part of the nineteenth century, whereas Marcus Garvey became big in Belize two decades after the 1898 Centenary.)