by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Sept. 1, 2022
The seven recipients of the Belize at 41 Awards were honored today at the Belize City House of Culture, where they each received a commemorative plaque. This year’s awardees are Ray Gongora, Pen Cayetano, Dawn Adderley, Lawrence Vernon, Susano Blanco, Bredda David Obi, and Brad Pattico.
Ray Gongora received the Beverly Smith Lopez Award for Acting in Theater and Film. Gongora is an actor, comedian, and a key figure in the Belizean Artistic Renaissance of the 1970s, having produced and performed in stage productions across the Americas.
Beloved Dangriga artist and founder of the Punta Rock genre, Pen Cayetano, is the recipient of the George Gabb Prize for Visual Arts. Through his art, as well as his music, Cayetano has spent decades sharing his Garifuna heritage with the world. Like Cayetano, Bredda David Obi, the recipient of the Andy Palacio Price for Original Belizean Music, is a renowned musician best known for creating the Kungo genre of music.
Lawrence Vernon, former Chief Librarian at the Belize National Library Service, was honored with the Zee Edgell Prize for Literary Arts. In addition to his extensive work with the library system in Belize, Vernon has penned several short stories and historical non-fiction works.
Susano Blanco, for his work in preserving the craft of indigenous medicine, is the recipient of the Don Eligio Panti Prize for Protection and Development of Traditional Knowledge. And for her many years spent dedicated to the art of dance, choreographer Dawn Adderley received the Rosita Baltazar Prize for Dance.
Brad Pattico, one of the country’s most renowned Kriol folk music artists, was the recipient of the Leela Vernon Award for Creative Community Action and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage.
Bredda David Obi, upon receiving his award, summarized the importance of recognizing outstanding Belizeans in one, very poignant sentence:
“Yuh nuh wait till di man dead fi tell ah ih good,” he said.
Those words were echoed by Merilyn Young, the Interim President at NICH and Co-Chair of the NCC, who also underscored the importance of honoring persons for their work while they are alive.
In 2021, the National Celebrations Commission (NCC) established the awards ceremony in an effort to recognize those Belizeans who have contributed significantly to safeguarding the country’s culture and heritage.