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NATS Committee announces Farmers of the Year 2024

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To – David


Young sailors stand on the shoulder of a Master and Commander: Charles Bartlett Hyde

Photo: (right) Charles Bartlett Hyde Contributed: Harbour Regatta...

Kriol’s Legitimacy Bar

LettersKriol’s Legitimacy Bar

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Dear Editor:

As we tack our way through Black History Month (BHM), I feel a need to comment on the scant notice accorded our single, most valued, cultural, colonial bequest—our Kriol tongue. The transient Expats who settle here, along with the hundreds of Latino/Caricom displaced persons who have chosen Belize as their home away from home, realize the need to get a working grip as quickly as possible on the unique usage, nuances and vernacular flavor of Kriol.

Reparations, the evils of colonialism and its brutal offspring, slavery, not to mention the much-needed resetting/blurring of the lines of inequalities in social justice, education, commerce and upward job mobility for, by, or on behalf of the Creole constituency are all legitimate pursuits. And BHM provides a good platform to address these civil rights concerns.

I think this is a good time too, a seminal moment in fact, to emphasize the cardinal, cultural prominence held by our most valued endowment: our Kriol daily. A good time, pari passu, to unmask the many subtle devices we have employed in churning its denigration: verbal mimicry of shrugs, eye cuts and indulgent flounces; added to these are those less subtle sidebars of nurturing, like the directive to “speak English.” Having a Kriol dictionary is barely scotching the monster as long as we remain averse to “talk Creole;” as long as we persist in prefacing the use of a Creole word/phrase with:
** as they say in the village…;
** as we say in Kriol…;
** my granny would say…; or
** to put it in raw Kriol

The survival of Kriol as a vibrant, articulate, communicative medium demands its daily employment in our social intercourses—without these laughable attempts at linguistic dampers and suppressants. Ask the Garinagu or the Kechi who continue to moan the disappearance of their mother tongues from their homes and public squares, huffed by the more revered King’s English.

Remedies to preserve the Garifuna dialect, such as making room for it in school curricula, for instance, are yet to provide any noticeable bang returns on the buck outlays. The financial misadventure will be even greater if applied to Kriol, which has proven highly resistant to accepted teaching methods, reason being its verbal-use-only brand. Perhaps the Canadian model adopted a few years back to get English-speaking Canadians to speak French would be worth a try.

Ironically, the hope of a Kriol revival continues to flicker. And those refugees might just be the ones holding the fuel can. The last time the word pickney was heard on radio, absent any of those puerile dodges listed above, was from a disconsolate mother in rural Belize over her son’s untimely end. She was one of the asylum seekers!
Hart Tillett

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