Photo: The late Godsman Celestino Ellis
by Kristen Ku
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 13, 2023
On Thursday, November 9, the family and friends of the late Godsman Celestino Ellis gathered at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina in Belize City to unveil plans for the Godsman Celestino Ellis Virtual Center. This modern initiative is aimed at preserving and promoting the Garifuna culture.
Cynthia Ellis, daughter of the late visionary, shared, “The center is not just a physical place or a location. The center is virtual, because my dad was one who traveled and impacted the world. He set up many [initiatives] for Central American peace in the late 80s and 90s, and Guatemala was having issues and he was part of that. He also traveled throughout the Caribbean, and throughout the United States. I don’t think he ever went to Africa, but his heart was in Africa.”
The Godsman Ellis Center will serve as a resource hub for entrepreneurial development and youth enhancement, honoring unacknowledged heroes like Ellis, who, due to their humility, often remain unrecognized.
“The center is going to replicate the fact that there’s nothing new under the sun,” Cynthia added, indicating its role in continuing her father’s legacy of innovation, including his establishment of one of the country’s first peanut butter factories.
Godsman Celestino Ellis was a pioneer, an activist, and an educator whose stature was misrepresented by his physical height. “He was a very short man, but a very tall person,” Cynthia stated proudly. His contributions spanned founding the School of Agriculture for Belize, the (National) Agricultural Show, and the ITVET, as well as being a founding member of the National Garifuna Council and the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA).
Cynthia fondly remembered her father’s dedication to education and his deep-rooted mentorship, which started when he began teaching at the age of 14 in remote villages. “His spirit lives on through me and through many of us, not just his biological children, but the children that he nurtured and mentored,” she emphasized.
The center, while virtual, will have a physical representation in San Ignacio and the aim is to launch a series of activities in the following year. Cynthia noted, “The timeline is God’s time, meaning that we’re gonna break ground in the coming year… ‘cause all the people in the room today are people who are being supported by the Godsman Ellis Center. These are people (to) whom Godsman Ellis provided accommodation and encouragement.”