Features — 04 September 2009 — by Ernest Cain
(from the unpublished book by the late Ernest Cain)
The man who preserved for all of us this very significant yearly celebration of the historic Battle of St. George’s Caye, is Simon Lamb. His name should be honoured, and his achievements should be preserved in a very tangible form so that unborn generations of Belizeans would grow to learn and admire his achievements.
Simon Lamb did a wonderful accomplishment in preserving a day for his people. He had vision, and he exercised hat vision so that generations of his people would benefit materially in the form of an honoured yearly celebration. We all should then be joyful in our celebration of the day – the 10th day of September, realizing that it has come down to us through the sincere efforts of a dedicated personality. Let us celebrate with dignity, and a certain amount of pride, knowing that we do so in order that history will record our deep concern in preserving the Tenth Day of September for future generations; as it indeed has been preserved for us by Simon Lamb.
Simon Lamb has left us an heritage. He paved the way, he exerted himself to make secure for all of us this great heritage we now enjoy. Should we not therefore, count it honourable, on our part, to preserve for future generations what we received from those who have gone before!
Simon Lamb was born on the 14th day of October, in the year 1833, in the Settlement of Belize, of very humble parents, who had only recently been manumitted from slavery. He grew to be a very vigilant public figure, small of stature, humble, unassuming, of a very serious turn of mind. These qualities found expression throughout his life in loving and faithful service to his country and people.
Simon Lamb organized the People’s Committee in the year 1891, on the 19th day of January, the chief object of which was “to further the political interest of the people of British Honduras.” On the Executive of that Committee were stalwarts such as: Sally Wolffsohn, Benjamin Fairweather, William Cadle Price, William Wagner, H. Towrye Price, Carlos Melhado, Alexander Dunn, Reginald Uter, Miss Caroline Wagner, Miss Ellen Ocean, and others.
Simon Lamb was deeply interested in the spiritual life of his people and as an active member of the Methodist Church, he became Superintendent of the Ebenezer Sunday School.
In the year 1898 Simon Lamb started the celebrations with the full support of patriotic followers. There were no divisions among those people: there were no factions or party in disloyal opposition, because the people realized that they were celebrating the greatest event in the history of their beloved country. There was one dedicated people, determined to celebrate together and, to enjoy the fruits of the sacrificial labours of their forebears.
The people assembled at the logwood barquedier of the Belize Estate and Produce Company at the corner of North Front Street and Hyde’s Lane on the river (Simon Lamb was for many years a trusted mercantile clerk of BEC) early in the morning. Led by that small, indomitable figure, they marched orderly and joyfully to Government House where Simon Lamb in person presented an Address of Loyalty to the Governor for transmission to the King of England at the time.
For this occasion Simon Lamb was fully attired in his official dress of Tam O’Shanter – red shirt and blue trousers.
After parading through the streets the procession would return to the barquedier to a special feast of boiled cake, beans and rice, mess pork, salt beef and game meat of various kinds. In this feast everybody participated, without distinction. It was indeed an all-day affair, free for all to enjoy.
Each year the celebration grew bigger as people realized the significance and the importance of the country’s day. Then the time came when, stricken with age, Simon Lamb could do no more than to retire from the public duty. He handed over to faithful and dedicated followers to carry on.
(Ismail Omar Shabazz NOTE on 8/9/02: Simon Lamb died on the 17th day of May in the year 1914, at the age of 80 years and 5 months. He was buried at Lord’s Ridge Cemetery in Belize City. His remains lie at Row “D” at Lot #67. Over the years he has been forgotten by the politicians of the nation.)