The visit of the Governor

ir Colville Young has not always been the Governor of Belize. Neither was Dame Minita Gordon. They have been local Governor Generals recommended by Prime Minister of Belize.

Before our independence in 1981, the Queen of England appointed Governors to govern Belize. Though we had our own elected representatives and government officials, there was the Queen's direct representative living in Belize. England had built a very elegant mansion in Belize City, and it was rightly known as Government House because there is where the Governor lived. They served terms in Belize sort of how the ambassadors serve terms in Belize as well. I recall some British Governors like Sir Peter Stallard, Sir Thornley, Sir Garvey, and one acting governor Sir Wolfson.

The visit of a governor to San Pedro was perhaps the most important event that ever occurred 25 years ago. It was a festive day and more important, after his visit he would declare the rest of the day a holiday for the school.

Days before his visit, we would practice the national anthem of reat Britain or England, "God Save the Queen". The first few lines went like this: "God save our gracious Queen. Long live our noble Queen, God save the Queen." We would also practice how to march and how to stand at attention in a straight line. One day before his arrival, we would decorate the main pier with coconut palms woven into arches.

The governor would arrive in either the Patricia or the Lollette, the two motor boats belonging to the Queen -and later on donated to the government of Belize. The Lollette docked right at the pier. The other one had to throw anchor about 200 yards in front of the pier. The Governor was dressed in full white- white trousers, white coat, a white helmet type cap and many decorations on his coat. He was welcomed at the end of the pier by the policeman, the principal of the school, the village council chairman and one or two other dignitaries. On the beach, all one hundred students made two lines holding high in the air the Union Jacks or the British flags. All the rest of the villagers, about two hundred, stood along the shore by the pier. The governor walked and shook hands with the children and then with a few villagers. He went to the police station, signed the log book and then walked the four or five blocks of the village. He stopped at the primary school which was in front of the police station and then headed back to his boat. There was no other place to visit. As he waved goodbye from his boat, the teacher announced to us that the Governor had given the rest of the day off, so it was a mad dash home, a change of clothes and into the sea. We loved it when the Governor visited in the mornings as opposed to the afternoons. The next day San Pedro would be in the news for once during the year as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced the Governor's visit to San Pedro.

The Governor's visit to San Pedro was an event of pomp and circumstance, very formal, well planned and much celebrated. Palms were set up and the village was raked clean, and dogs were tied in their yards to give the Governor a good impression. Twenty five years ago believes we should go back to the formalities of a royal visit whenever a high authority like the Prime Minister or the Governor General visits us formally or in an official capacity. Long live the Queen. Long live Belize. Long live the Prime Minister. Long live Clinton.

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