Paris is the capital of France, of England it is London, of Spain, Madrid, and of Italy, Rome. Capitals of all countries are cities, but the word city is not included in their names, unless the name of the country and its capital is the same.
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico, Guatemala City of Guatemala and Panama City of Panama, for the obvious reasons that there would be confusion, if they were not distinguished in this way. Belize City was named the capital of our country for the same reason.
If this piece is sounding like a lecture for school children, that is exactly what is intended. It is also intended as a reminder to television broadcasters and talk show hosts who have been referring to our capital over the airways as Belmopan City. I have to admit that it may have a certain ring to it which the name by itself may not have. Also it sounds more imposing. Perhaps the citizens of Belmopan may even like it better, being self-conscious of their present small population. But, Belmopan is the official name of our capital city and, we have a duty to respect that fact.
There is another reason why we should treat the name of our capital with respect, even reverence. It has a unique history, beginning with the famous poem, “We Unite to Build a Nation,” written by our National Hero, George Price, when he was Premier. He had a vision of Belize becoming a great nation, when he wrote these lines, Look west, Belizean builders, see the shining mountain and the Jeweled City of Mopan, radiating Light and Love and Peace and Joy. He must already have had in mind, a capital city, built in the interior, on a high hill, away from stormy winds.
The city was built according to his vision, and when it came to be named, what other name could it have been given but the one chosen? There was a competition, and Mr. Charles Woods came up with the winning entry. He put the name of the “Jeweled City” with the prefix “Bel” (from Belikin, the Mayan name for Belize) and, lo and behold, there was the destined name of our new capital: Belmopan.
Why would anyone want to spoil a name with such historical devising by adding anything to it? What purpose would it serve, except perhaps, to satisfy a personal ego trip?
Much harm has already been done by television newscasters and talk show hosts, thoughtlessly or deliberately referring to our capital as Belmopan City. There is a whole generation of school children who have been misled by these media personalities. There is only one way to correct this situation. The media people have to correct themselves. It is their patriotic duty.
You would expect school children to be misled by TV personalities, but not by a government corporation like Belize Telemedia Ltd. Belmopan City appeared in their 2011 telephone directory. It was corrected in 2012. It was a grievous fault in a government corporation, almost inexcusable. Worse was yet to come.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a glossy bulletin, listing in chronological order the historical events relating to the Guatemalan claim to Belize. This very helpful and commendable effort was marred by the fact that in the address of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, written on the cover of this bulletin, the capital of Belize is given as Belmopan City. The damage has been done. What can the Ministry of Foreign Affairs do to remedy it? One way is for the Government of Belize to announce that is has decided to change the name of the capital. After all, what’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Regardless. The names of the places in a country, especially, the name of its capital city, should be important to its citizens.
Children are like plants
Children are very much like plants. What they will become depends to a large extent on the kind of soil they are planted in. The best kind of soil to begin life in, is a home, with a mother and a father whose union has been sanctified by the bonds of matrimony.
When a child is born into a family of parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, sisters and brothers, and cousins, he can be assured that he is a wanted child. His arrival was long anticipated and, his birth an event for joyous celebration.
You remember the parable of the Sower and the Seed. How some seeds fell on stony ground; others among thorns; and some on fertile soil. The first two did not fare well but, the last grew into strong and healthy trees, bearing fruit in abundance.
Children born to families in a home with a mother and a father are well taken care of. Their basic needs will be provided for. They will have good examples to follow. They will be taught moral and spiritual values, and they will grow and develop in a climate which nurtures and inspires.
Other children are at a disadvantage. They are deprived. They do not have good examples to follow. The climate they live in does not nurture and is not as conducive to their physical, moral and spiritual health as those born into families. So am I right in saying that the former are privileged and the latter are deprived? Therefore, if you agree with me that children are our country’s greatest natural resource, then, I ask you, which of these two groups are more in need of attention and assistance by the state? Clearly, it is the group that is underprivileged. So. More of the state’s resources have to be used to ensure that their basic needs are met; to see that they get a basic education; to see that they are trained and disciplined; to see that they have an occupation; and to ensure that they become productive citizens.
This is an investment the state has to make. It has to find the funds to do it. It is an investment that the state cannot afford not to make. If it does not, it will cost the society more in the end. Much more.
Look on the bright side. One of these underprivileged children could become a greater sprinter than Usain Bolt; or a great industrial chemist like George Washington Carver; or a great leader like George Price; or a great patriot like Philip Goldson; or just a good decent, honest, peaceful, productive and honorable citizen of Belize. Neglected, he could become one of the many scourges in human form that our society has to bear.