Features — 15 November 2017 — by Colin Hyde
I agree. Hope you agree too

One of my friends, mentors, told me recently that he was looking at a primary school program on the television and he saw something during the singing of the national anthem that made his eyes go, pop. He said that some of the girls looked pained when they came to the part about pledging “manhood.” Well, I don’t know what is going on with females these days. Don’t they know their place anymore?

Females, our other half, our better half, you will have noticed that they are getting more and more uppity as time goes by. Once upon a time they were squarely under foot. In Moses’ time they knew their place. Then along came Jesus, and His soft spot. He filled their heads with all kinds of ideas. But Paul of Tarsus, that great hero, he would have none of it. That bad boy turned good boy, didn’t change his ways when it came to matters of male/female relationships. He had one word for them – OBEY! Whatever opening Jesus left there, Paul of Tarsus sealed shut.

Muhammad, if Arabian behaviour speaks to his lessons, knew, like Kermit, that we can’t live without them, but we can’t live with them either. Blessings came to the world through Eve, and trouble came to the world, through Eve. They were to be appreciated, but had to be checked.

Then along came Baha’u’llah and expanded on Jesus’ ideas about them. No, they were not to be let completely out of the woods. Jesus was no supporter of feminism and neither was Baha’u’llah. But they both insisted that women walk beside us, not behind us. Abdul Baha, Baha’u’llah’s son, asserted that it was more important for them to be educated, than us. He said, “The world of humanity has two wings—one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible.”

Those guys, Jesus and Baha’u’llah, broke the dam. Now they seem to have no limit. You know this progression amounts to more and more rights. And with that comes the demand for respect.

Manhood, in the old days, encompassed them. They were a part of us, included. Were, and are, are sometimes worlds apart. Seriously, now, seriously, manhood, as expression for the human whole, is indeed archaic. In 2017, our girls and women shouldn’t have to sing an anthem that sometimes – “stick in their throat.”

While we’re at it, my mentor thinks the Baymen expression is also not inclusive. Some Belizeans have expressed difficulty with that before.

This country, the land on which it sits, was once part of a different world. There were people on this land on which we live, before the buccaneers came in 1638. When the Spaniards from Europe came, they brought guns and strange diseases. The people on this land, our Mayan ancestors, were decimated. Thus, when the buccaneers came, they, the Maya, weren’t many.

At the time of 1798, our country was dominated by white and, to a far lesser extent, some free colored. In the historic battle, white, free colored, and some slaves, fought to defend against attackers who were out to assert the rights of Spain in this region. They, the defenders, were successful. In 1862, the new Belize became a colony of the British. In 1981, the colony decided, with the blessing of almost all the countries of the world, to become an independent country.

The words to the song, Land of the Gods, were written by Samuel Haynes, a WWI veteran. It is, as some people say, male-centric. Haynes, a warrior, exalted the men who fought at the battle.

It is not known if Haynes intended for the words he penned to become the national anthem. Indeed, he did “beef” with the PUP when they appropriated it. George Price and his crowd thought the song had the depth and the verve, for such a place of honour. George Price and his crowd favoured it, and with a little tweak, changing the word, “gods”, to “free”, it became our foremost patriotic song.

In the archaic sense, “Baymen” refers exclusively to the people who were here at the time of the Battle of Saint George’s Cay. There is an expansive meaning to the word, “Baymen”, where it refers to all patriotic people who live here now. Some people don’t want to, or can’t, expand their minds to grasp that.

Some Belizeans, who came here after the Battle, argue that the song does not embrace them. If you come to a country, humbly, and you contribute, in time you become just as roots as the people who came before you. It is so. Belizeans with little buccaneer DNA, even though their ancestors were called on to defend this land, remember that the original Baymen were slave owners. That is true. Those with little “Baymen” DNA remember how their forebears hewed the forest under the whip, not for recompense.

People cannot allow nostalgia to dominate their lives. We are to prize our culture, but keep only the parts of it which we find to be worthy. As the human being must renew him/herself, the nation must renew itself too. Okay, my two cents support didn’t go this way before. Now it does. If you are into I told you so, well, you told me so.

Belize is said to be the only country in the world that has human beings on its national flag. We don’t know exactly how that came to be, but there was a time when the human beings on the flag, two men, were of a very dark hue. Today, there is one dark man, and one man of a light complexion. The red band on the national flag wasn’t always there. So, the flag of Belize has morphed a couple times. It appears that most Belizeans believe this is good.

I agree with my mentor, that it is time we change a few things in our national anthem. I hope you agree too. I believe we have the license to do it. The copyright on it should have run out. No, I don’t have full expertise in the copyright world. I should, but I don’t.

When George Price and friends changed, tampered with a word in the poem, Lands of the Gods, and made it the national anthem of Belize, there must not have been any laws in Belize to stop him/them. The British would have had copyright laws, which maybe could have been applied here, but we were not consequential enough for a poem penned by one of us to concern them.

The Americans are always forward about their business. According to fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/faqs/copyright-basics/, all works published in the United States before 1923 are in the public domain. Works published after 1922, but before 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date of publication. If the work was created, but not published, before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years.

Some might ask what makes one of our nation’s worst poets believe he can revise our national song. Well, you just answered it. I am not making a song; I’m just revising it, just adjusting it for the times. And my interference was little. The song still properly respects the glory of yesterday.

Sing it, and if the words don’t stick in your throat, let’s take it to the House. To that end, make a personal visit to your area rep, or send them your comments. I am definitely going to try and contact my representative. With a little effort we can get it tabled in the House, this revamping of our song. And oh, as per the changes, between the House and the Senate any little rough spots that are there, will be smoothed over.

With apologies to Samuel Haynes, the man behind the immortal words, here goes.

O, Land of the Free by the Carib Sea,
Our lives we pledge to thy liberty!
No tyrants here linger, despots must flee
This tranquil haven of democracy

The blood of our parents which hallows the sod,
Brought freedom from slavery oppression’s rod,
By the might of truth and the grace of God,
No longer shall we be hewers of wood.

Arise Belizeans, all across this land,
Put on your armour, here we stand!
Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee
Land, of the Free, by the Carib Sea!

Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold,
Our forests and rivers, and reef off shore;
Our mothers and fathers, valiant and bold
Drove back the invader; this heritage hold

From proud Rio Hondo to old Sarstoon,
Through coral isle, over blue lagoon;
Keep watch with the angels, the stars and moon;
For freedom comes tomorrow’s noon.

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