The thorny issue of slavery in Belize is rarely commemorated or even discussed, but the Institute of Social and Cultural Research is tackling it head on with a new exhibit at the House Of Culture.
It's called "Slavery & Emancipation in Belize" and traces the history of slavery right up to Emancipation in 1838.
Organizer Nigel Encalada told us that confronting the issue of slavery will also enable the society to deal with many of the issues of violence that play out everyday on our city streets:
Nigel Encalada - Organizer
"Part of the reason for putting on this exhibit is to bring information about the slavery experience in Belize to the Belizean context. It was realized that we in Belize - we have not consistently done enough to commemorate the slavery experience in Belize. We have not sought to commemorate the slavery experience in Belize. So it's almost as it it never existed. So this experience is important to recount- to relate - so that people begin and continue - it's not everyone - continue to be conscious that our history is important to the shaping of who we are today, and will continue to shape the generations to come. And so, it is to commemorate the experience of slavery, but as well, to recall and to ask those difficult questions that remain unresolved in the Belizean landscape. I would propose that the issue of crime and violence, and this southside/northside divide, is a result of the psychological warefare that was done on people, first the indigenous people, then the slaves who were trapped in this settlement without chose. So, there is the issue of feeling inferiority, issues of people telling themselves - and you hear it all the time - 'The system is not working for. I don't have access to education.' And all these sort of things have to do with issues of identity, one that was created in the period of slavery in Belize. It is not an excuse, but in order to fix the problem, you have to know what the problem is."
The exhibit runs until September 31st, and will then travel to various venues across the country.