A new headstone on Simon Lamb’s tomb will fittingly be unveiled on Thursday, September 9, 2010, the eve of the annual celebrations of Battle of St. George’s Caye, following a parade through the principal streets of Belize City which is being organized by members of the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF) and the Belizean/American Friends of Simon Lamb, represented in Belize by Muriel Laing Arthurs.
Lamb, born in 1833, has been described as the most patriotic Belizean of his era, the 19th and 20th centuries, yet the most notable landmark in his memory is Simon Lamb Street, which runs from Freetown Road, cutting through St. Joseph Street, right alongside the premises of the old Technical compound (now the Belize City ITVET) and St. Joseph School.
UEF chair, YaYa Marin-Coleman, said that if it weren’t for Simon Lamb, Belizeans would not be remembering the 10th the way they do. “People don’t understand the 10th of September, period!” Coleman said. “That’s why we started doing the march again.”
Coleman said that 100 years after the Battle of St. George’s Caye (1798), Lamb gathered the members of the Loyal and Patriotic Order of the Baymen and they paraded to mark the 10th, decked with red and white hats.
That happened on September 10, 1898—a hundred years after the event, called the Centenary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye. This is what led to annual celebrations. Presently, the day is recognized as a public and bank holiday in Belize.
“It is not taught in school in a formal way. Many young people don’t know about him or what he did,” she added.
The September 9th march is being held this week to recollect Lamb’s founding of the annual celebrations. While its name had been replaced with the label “National Day” by those who do not support the Battle of St. George’s Caye and the story of the triumph secured with the help of Afro-Belizeans against the Spaniards, still others cling to the original title — St. George’s Caye Day.
There are those who label it “a United Democratic Party thing;” ironic because the UDP did not even exist in Simon Lamb’s era.
According to Belizean historian, Ernest Cain, “In the year 1898 Simon Lamb started the celebrations with the full support of patriotic followers. There were no divisions among those people: there were no factions or party in disloyal opposition, because the people realized that they were celebrating the greatest event in the history of their beloved country. There was one dedicated people, determined to celebrate together and, to enjoy the fruits of the sacrificial labours of their forebears.
“The people assembled at the logwood barquedier of the Belize Estate and Produce Company at the corner of North Front Street and Hydes Lane on the river (Simon Lamb was for many years a trusted mercantile clerk of BEC) early in the morning. Led by that small, indomitable figure, they marched orderly and joyfully to Government House where Simon Lamb in person presented an Address of Loyalty to the Governor for transmission to the King of England at the time.”
Ismail Shabazz of UEF said that the procession this Thursday would similarly kick off at the corner of North Front Street and Hyde’s Lane. It would make its way over the Swing Bridge, into Albert Street, Regent Street, Water Lane, Vernon Street, Central American Boulevard and then to the Lords Ridge Cemetery, where Lamb was laid to rest in 1914.
The group has been trying to get the government to feature the tombstone unveiling as a part of the official September program. However, at the time of this writing, we don’t know if the Government has accepted the request. Notwithstanding, the group will proceed with the unveiling.