(Ed. NOTE: The late Francis Arana was a columnist for this newspaper for many years.)
Warm greetings. If you can, could you please publish sometime this month the Independence Essay “Independence is just the beginning” attached, written by my late father, Frank Arana, in 1981 before the discovery of oil in Spanish Lookout and Never Delay and before the discovery of gold in the Ceibo Chico.
As a backstory, my Dad was affected by “pink eye” and was at home when he became aware of the Independence Essay competition and since he was on sick leave decided to participate and won the second prize.
Thanks very much. Best regards,
John M. Arana
Independence is just the beginning
(by: F. B. Arana, Sr., 22/24 Ambergris Avenue, Belmopan)
INDEPENDENCE ESSAY (written in September of 1981)
At midnight on Sunday, September 20th in a ceremony central to Independence Day celebrations, the Union Jack will be solemnly lowered for the last time and in its place will be run up the Belizean Flag. This ceremony will signify the end of Colonial rule and the dawn of a new era – the birth of a new nation on the Central American Mainland!
What will be the thoughts of those who will be privileged to witness this simple but impressive ceremony or who will listen to the radio coverage of the same throughout the length and breadth of this country? Our gut reaction to this event will in large measure determine the course our country will take in the future.
Doubtless in the days ahead there will be many who like the Israelites under Moses en route to the Promised Land, will become fearful of the unknown. They will wish to return from the desert to captivity and bondage of old masters (EXO. 16: 2 -3). Yet many more on seeing the unfurling of our new flag and hearing the melodious strains of our new National Anthem will perk up, lift their heads and resolve to move on. Like every new nation, we will experience teething problems but as has been said, “Man should be like tea; his true colours showing the more he gets into hot water”.
Apparently Belize is not blessed with deposits of gold, silver, bauxite or oil, any one of which would serve to develop our country at a faster rate. We are, however, abundantly blessed with natural resources which are the envy of many so-called more progressive countries. First of all, we have enough good land for the development of agriculture. We know that in this area, we have only just begun to scratch the surface. What is needed is a well thought out long-term agricultural development policy aimed at making this country a producer and exporter of such commodities as rice, corn, beans, beef and tropical fruits.
Secondly, we must continue to expand the utilization of our marine resources while taking all necessary measures to ensure that such resources are conserved for the use and enjoyment of future generations.
Thirdly, we should not forget the tourist trade. Given the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of our people, our jungle and wild-life, unexplored caves, major rivers, scenic mountains, pine ridge, the second largest barrier reef in the world, and many other attractions too numerous to mention, there is no reason why we should not attract an even increasing number of tourists, especially from North America, to our shores.
We have discussed certain aspects important to our development. The above-mentioned do not by any means constitute a complete blueprint for developments. Of permanent importance is the proper role of our political learning and socio-economic institutions in molding the right attitudes among our people. We must accept that the people are our greatest resource. Whatever our political, social, cultural, or religious differences may be, we must stand united in our resolve to preserve Belize as a bastion of democracy in the region. All of us must learn to take our respective responsibilities seriously, each according to his/her God-given gift be we politicians, public officers, merchants, farmers or casual workers. If we do this, the we will be proud of our roots, we will know this land is ours, that opportunities for betterment are available to all who come to grasp them and that everyone of us should be able to say (like Paul of his native Tarsus), “I am a Belizean from Belize in Central America”, “a citizen of no mean country”.