The story of Belize is one of migration and adaptation; a direct result of the movement of peoples from across regions who have nestled and created life, together. Belizeans have managed to create a society where differences have become a singular identity. Indeed, Belize is a rich melting pot of distinct ingredients harmoniously creating a unique aroma and flavor.
The Representation of a People
In a land where traditional Mestizos dance the Punta, Garifuna people eat tamales and Chinese speak Kriol, we have developed and integrated into a society unmatched and unseen. This is what the jewel is, Belize — A cultural grasp of an understanding uniquely ours, a culture uniquely Belizean.
While our diversity is our strength, it also allows for a surge of outside influences both regional and international. One may then ask; how do we manage the preservation of our uniquely Belizean cultural narrative in an ever-growing global culture? — The answer is art. The defense of our cultural uniqueness and traditions is in how we express and esteem our local art.
The artistic choices, religious diversity as well as the behavioral and belief patterns of people are the basic makeup of a culture. It is the stories we tell ourselves and share with the world that make up our social DNA. The value and rarity of the Belizean culture are priceless.
It is only right to conclude that the art crafted by the hands of our history should be revered. From the Succotz Women’s Group in the Cayo district that create lovely crochet and embroidered items, sauces and jams, to the Zericote and Mahogany woodworkers that produce timeless pieces for décor and furnishings – Belize is not only blessed with natural beauty but a bounty of talent in her people.
Belizean Art as a Means of Appreciation
Belizean art is a representation of Belizean history and culture. The musical stylings of Lela Vernon, the vibrant musings on canvas of Pen Cayetano, even the dukunu or tamalitos that are sold on the street corner all tell the story of a culturally thriving nation.
The job of taking the old and new and then transcending them into an expression is that of the artist and artisans. While the job of appreciating and understanding that expression is that of all of us. The generational challenge here is not to fear losing our culture to the outside world because change is inevitable and must always be welcomed – It is, however, to resolve against losing the very spirit of culture by losing values of understanding, respect, and reverence of tradition.
A culture’s spirit, when harnessed, is the strength and voice of a people. Supporting artists, craftspeople, and artisans is the ultimate goal as a society. The importance and value of history, of family, as well as of the global world and its role in local society is every individual’s social duty.