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Friday, October 30, 2020
Home Letters Amending our National Anthem

Amending our National Anthem

In the Friday, September 18, 2020 edition of the Amandala I had written that it was time that some Belizeans stop vilifying Samuel Haynes, writer of our national anthem, and I proposed some amendments to same.

Samuel Haynes was 26 years ahead of his time when he wrote, “… this tranquil haven of democracy,” because in 1928 when he wrote our anthem, British Honduras was a Crown colony of England, and it was certainly not a democracy. The word democracy comes from the Greek language: demos (people) and cracia (administration), so that democracy is administration by/for the people.

The closest British Honduras came to being a democracy was when the colony was governed by the Public Meeting, and that certainly held sway when in September 1798, the colonial subjects voted to defend the settlement against Spanish encroachment that ended on September 10, 1798.

British Honduras became a democracy in 1954, 26 years after our anthem had been written, when general elections were held under universal adult suffrage. The voting age was 21 years. Prior to 1954, here in my hometown of Orange Walk, Orangewalkeños had no idea that one Doctor George was their representative in the Legislative Council. He served for eight years. He had been selected among a group of about a dozen “haves;” the “have-nots” had no say in electing Dr. George. He lived in an area that as young boys we called “Rancho,” to which we walked to buy mangoes from Ms. Tonnie. Dr. George passed away not long after the elections and was buried in “Rancho”.

In the 1954 general elections, Dr. George ran on the ticket of the National Independence Party (his name was Dr. William Artheron Stratheren George.) He was born in India and was brought to British Honduras by the British. (He came as a medical doctor and served Orange Walk and Corozal for 45 years). He and George Flowers of the PUP faced off in opposing bids to represent the people of Orange Walk.

George Flowers was of Creole descent, and he won the elections, in an area where the population was 98% plus Maya/Mestizo and Spanish-speaking. My father, the late Gabino Novelo, campaigned for George Flowers. George Flowers won the elections.

My father told me that he and George Flowers travelled on bicycles to the villages. They ate and slept in different peoples’ homes, who were hospitable to them. My father spoke to the people in Maya and urged them to vote for George Flowers. This bespeaks volumes of the character of the people of Orange Walk. Bear in mind that the last war fought on Belizean soil between the British and the forces of Marcos Canul was in Orange Walk Town on September 1, 1872.

This is what I propose that our national anthem should say: The amendments are in ALL CAPS. I make it gender neutral, and readers will note that I make no allusions to the word “Baymen”:

O land of the free by the Carib Sea
Our HUMANITY we pledge to thy liberty
No tyrants here linger, despots must flee
This tranquil haven of democracy.
The blood of our sires which hollows the sod
Brought freedom from slavery, oppressor’s rod
By the might of truth and the grace of God
No longer shall we be hewers of wood

Arise!, ye sons AND DAUGHTERS of the BELIZEAN clan
Put on your armors, PROTECT the land
Drive back the tyrants, let despots free
Land of the free by the Carib Sea.
Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold
O’er mountains and valleys where prairies roll
Our forefathers, valiant and bold
Drove back the invader, this heritage hold
From proud Río Hondo to old Sarstoon
Through coral isle, over blue lagoon
Keep watch under the angels, the stars and moon
For freedom comes tomorrow’s noon.

Arise!, ye sons AND DAUGHTERS of the BELIZEAN clan
Put on your armors, PROTECT the land
Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee
Land of the free by the Carib Sea.

I hope that my proposed amendments are met positively by the Belizean people and that they accept it. I thank Mr. Albert Burns for his valuable information on Dr. George. He was in the counting room at the post office when the results of the 1954 elections were announced.

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