By Benjamin Flowers
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines culture as the beliefs, customs, arts, behaviors etc., of a particular society, group, place or time.
The National Kriol Council, this week, called on Belize’s Kriol population to learn about and appreciate the contributions of the Kriol as a people to the historic and cultural development of Belize.
Cultural Representative for the council, Myrna Manzanares, told The Reporter that while the contributions are hardly given due recognition, the Kriol culture has influenced the food, dress, language and lifestyle of modern Belize.
“Many Belizeans don’t realize that through the African ancestry of the Kriol, settlers in Belize were eating tamales and ducunu before the Mestizos arrived”, Manzanares said, “and there is not a place in this country that doesn’t serve rice and beans, which is a Kriol traditional meal.”
She also pointed out that Belize Kriol, which is spoken in every part of the country, is now listed as one of the 7,105 documented languages of the world.
Speaking on national development, she emphasized the importance of the Flower’s Bank Kriol Festival, held this year on June 13, to recall one of the most critical points in Belize’s history.
The festival honors the journey of the “Flowers Bank 14,” a group of men from the Kriol village in rural Belize District, who journeyed via canoe on June 4 to a historic public meeting, which resolved to stand and fight against Spanish invaders.
“If those men had not made that journey, we would all belong to either Mexico or Guatemala,” Manzanares added.
The festival, marked the 218th anniversary of the journey made by: William Crofts, Caesar Flowers, William Pindar, David Dawson, William Flowers, William Scott, George Raybon, John Dawson, George Grant, Joseph Smith, Thomas Robertson, Adam Flowers, James Hercules, and Joseph Tone; only two of whom were white settlers.
Kriol culture has also shaped “Punta” music as an art form, by combining with traditional Garifuna music to create the genre.
The National Kriol Council has made strides in promoting Kriol as a culture, including publishing a grammar textbook for Kriol, a Kriol dictionary, a tourist handbook of Kriol phrases, and a version of the New Testament Bible in Kriol.