Features — 25 May 2019 — by Colin Hyde (freelance)
National Heritage Library honors Francis B. Arana Sr.

Belmopan, Tues. May 21, 2019– Francis “Frank” B. Arana, a highly respected Belizean agriculturist and writer of yester-year, was honored today for his literary contributions to the country in a ceremony hosted and organized by the National Heritage Library in Belmopan. Mr. Arana spent his most productive years working in the Belize Agriculture Department and the Development Finance Corporation, and after he retired he turned to writing, to record his experiences and the experiences of others he met on the way, for posterity.

The opening speaker at the ceremony, Mrs. Rose Arana Sabala, a daughter of Mr. Arana, remarked that today is the 14th anniversary of her father’s death. She said that since his death the Arana family had held a number of reunions.

In her remarks, Ms. Feline Cayetano, the Administrator of the Library, and the driving force behind the Belize Book Industry Association, told the gathering, which included young students as well as senior educators, family and friends of the writer, that the ceremony, A Tribute to Francis B. Arana, was an “extension of their ‘Meet the Author’ program”, a program through which many of Belize’s celebrated writers have been recognized.

The guest of honor at the ceremonies, His Excellency Dr. Colville Young, Governor General of Belize, is himself an honoree of National Heritage Library, on a select list which includes Zee Edgell, Felicia Hernandez, Corinth Morter Lewis, Myrna Manzanares, Lita Hunter Krohn, Dr. Joseph Palacio, Hector Silva, and Lawrence Vernon.

Ms. Dativa Martinez spoke about the author’s life. Ms. Martinez said Mr. Arana was a man who loved life, his family, his church, his work, his country, and his culture. Ms. Martinez said that despite three heart surgeries, Mr. Arana still loved his wine, some “top shelf”, and attending parties with his friends.

He loved his family, she said, always showing concern for their health, how they were doing in school, and entertaining them with stories. He was a Lay Minister of the Catholic Church. Ms. Martinez said that when his nephews and nieces and young cousins stayed with his family, it was mandatory that they joined in the praying of the rosary in the evenings.

Mr. Arana loved Belize and all its cultures. His work took him all over the country and he enjoyed relating about the delicious foods and the interesting customs of all he met.  He was particularly intvested in the Garifuna culture, and this is manifested by his being one of the founding members of the National Garifuna Council, and a pioneer of the annual reenactment of the Garinagu arrival to Belize, in Belmopan, at the “ten cents” creek.

Mr. Arana organized a trip to Honduras, because he felt that it was important that Garinagu living in Belize connected with Garinagu living in many towns and villages in that country.

Ms. Martinez said he built up his knowledge base through correspondence courses, and he would later study at the Eastern Caribbean Farm Institute in Trinidad, the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, and in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Omar J. Gale, a nephew of Mr. Arana, read “Nails, Nails, Nails”, a selection from his book, “City of Angels”, and Ms. Ethnelda Paulino, a UB lecturer, read the essay, “Independence is the Beginning”, which Mr. Arana wrote on the eve of Belize’s independence in 1981.

Mr. Francis Arana – agriculturist, author, farmer, Lay Minister – was born in Punta Gorda in 1931. He first worked in the citrus and sawmilling industries, for five years, before he joined the Department of Agriculture, in 1953, in Barranco.  He was a founding member of The National Development Foundation of Belize.

His column, “It Used To Be That”, which was published in the Amandala for four years, beginning in 1992, was compiled into three volumes. Mr. Francis B. Arana is also the author of the books, “City Of Angels”, and “The Garifuna Teachers”.

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