There are many heroes who have made an impact in Belize’s history, but whose name may not necessarily resonate among Belizeans. With this in mind, the contributions to the jewel by men such as Isaiah Morter and Sidney Turton came to the fore this morning. NICH today launched an exhibition to pay them homage just in time for the celebration of Heroes and Benefactors Day on March ninth. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Isaiah Morter and Robert Sidney Turton may not be well known names among Belizean youths as are the likes of Antonio Soberanis, Cleopatra White, Baron Bliss and George Cadle Price. But Morter and Turton played significant roles in the development of Belize.
Nigel Encalada, Director, Institute for Social and Cultural Research
“There is a synergy taking place in Belize I would there say. There is this cultural renaissance; this cultural rebirth and there are many actors in this and you too are actors. Isaiah Morter and Robert Sidney Turton; these two men in the modern Belize would be exemplary examples of what we should thrive to become—both coming out of difficult circumstances, both could have easily found excuses and say we were poor and so on and didn’t have parents and become no names. But both became very prominent successfully Belizeans and Belizeans who would go on to become charitable. People who would contribute to the development in physical ways, financial and otherwise and to be models for other Belizeans and this is why we recognize them today as part of our national heroes and benefactors exhibit.”
And in light of March ninth, the fourth annual Belize’s Heroes and Benefactors Exhibit was launched today at the House of Culture in Belize City. Featured are unionists, educators, benefactors and leaders who have contributed to the country’s heritage.
“It’s a re-launch so to speak of the National Heroes and Benefactors exhibit. It is an activity that we do every year to coincide with the national heroes and benefactors day. It is a time when we become aware of this part of our heritage and each year we strive to add to the exhibit. This year, we have added the two benefactors, Sir Isaiah Morter and Robert Sidney Turton, two Belizean benefactors. It is born out of that history of Belize; it is born out of that consciousness that we must seek to claim what is ours. If it is our language, we claim it; if it is the contributions of the people who came before us, we claim it because that is the only way we can move forward. We claim what is the best of us and we move forward.”
Open to the public for an entire month, the launch of the exhibit was attended by students from several high schools. Also present were Bredda David Obi and Sidney Turton who spoke on Isaiah Morter and Robert Sidney Turton, respectively.
Bredda David Obi, Presenter
“Mister Isaiah Morter in his humble ways after achieving a certain amount of wealth through the coconut industry and probably like myself, discovered the importance of assisting your race. And remember a chain is only as string as its weakest link. So whatever race you are from always do your best to uplift your race so that in the end, the human kind will be stronger because we are all human beings when it is said and done.”
Sidney Turton, Presenter
“RST came from modest means and often times would fish in order to eat and if the catch was good, he would sell the fish in order to make additional income to the household. In order to help his mother financially, he was forced to abandon St. Mary’s School prior to completing Standard Three. RST first accomplishment was at the age of fourteen when he opened and made a success of his own shop. Wrigley’s Chewing Gum advanced him two hundred thousand dollars to take out chicle from Cayo and the Peten Area. On one of his visits to the camp; he was shot—severing his index and ring finger. The slug lodged itself into his abdomen. He never went back to Cayo or Peten, instead he focused on central and northern Belize including Quintana Roo Mexico. RST’s operation became so large that he had to have it in sectors. RST cherished his privacy. He quietly gave support and aid to worker’s unions. He ventured into politics and contested against the English candidate. He won and became a part of the executive council representing the north. In 1942 RST hired Mister George Price and soon began tutoring him in business and politics. History shows that RST was the father of the nationalist revolution and orchestrated the takeover of the BHGW.”
Turton died on fifteenth November, 1955. According to Obi, Morter left over a hundred thousand areas of land in Belize. Duane Moody for News Five.
The exhibition will continue throughout this month.