Our next story is about something we'll all be thinking of over the next month.
It's the Belizean flag - unique in the world as the only flag with human figures on it. But, as we've documented before, the skin tone of those human figures has changed significantly over time.
You might not know this, but the Coat of Arms started in the 1800's with two black woodcutters - and since then the melanin content of both men has been consistently going down.
Yes, at Independence it was formalized as one Mestizo Man and one Creole man, but that creole man has been getting lighter and lighter - so much so that - you'll see flags nowadays where it looks like a Chinese man and a Mestizo man.
Indeed, there are many versions of the Belize flag, too many for a cornerstone of our national identity. That's why NICH - working with a host of other government actors - has been laboring to standardize the Belizean flag - and enforce its use by law. We found out more today:..
Jules Vasquez reporting
As Belizeans, we all know this moment - but how much do we really know about this flag? 38 years on from independence, there are about 38 versions - each slightly different:
Neil Hall, NICH Public Relations "As many of you know we have a few versions of the flag fying around the country. Some with yellow men, some with black men, some with brown men, some with grey men and we think it's very important for us to all come together and have one unifying banner."
So, now the flag will be standardized, and made official by law. To get that standard, they went back to the 1981 flag - which is the mother flag:
Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH "In 1981 this flag was hoisted, and so the first question we asked is how did we get there. And so with the assistance of museum staff, we interviewed the designer of the flag prior to Independence Mr. Inez Sanchez and Everal Waight, two public servants at the time who had used earlier references of this flag that has been developed since as early as the early 1800s. So there is a a lot of history involve in the flag and so they had proposed what was called at Independence time the flag of unity and the basic principle was this that the flag to be designed would closely resemble the description that was lodge at the College of Arms in London in October of 1981 and that it would reflect the colour schemes of that flag of 1981."
Looking at the coat of arms within the two flags side by side, the main thing that has changed is the rendering of the two woodcutters. Over time they have been made a little more defined, like they've been in the gym, and now those white pants have a little depth to them, plus they now wear belts.
Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH "The flag that you see at the background here is the flag that was hoisted at Independence. This is at the George Price Center. The flag was produced in Liverpool, London and you will see if you look here this version, this is an effort to try and replicate that, with the exception that you see there the men are a little bit angular. This was clearly done by primitive technology at the time. Now we have much more advanced technology, so the men there are more anatomically accurate on the flag today. The two men represents a creole Belizean and a Mestizo Belizean. The two largest ethnic groups at the time of Independence."
The elements in the chevron have also been modified slightly:
Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH "If you look at the axe in the upper left of the chevron as it is called, that's now argent. An axe is silver looking when its new and so on. If you go back to the original flag its blue, but there is now axe that's blue. We went into the River Valley and we picked up paddles from the various villages to see if there is anything that resembles this paddle here and we even went back into the archival records to look at paddles that we have found. We found like 1880, some of the earliest photographs that we have and we said okay that is like a caricature looking paddle. If you fast forward you see the paddle now more accurately resembles a paddle that's used in the River Valley."
Deep research, and today the final version was presented to all the town and city mayors.
The culture Minister hopes that this spirit of bi partisanship can hold:
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Culture "Everything does not have to be a fight and in this instance it is merely patriotic individuals, albeit, there may be government employees in some respects trying to ensure that we have a standardize flag and that some of the discrepancies, the various different colorizations and sizes and depictions, because we all frown at that kind of thing. So it is merely to try to set the record straight."
And eventually, this final version will be legally established as the standard:
Nigel Encalada, ISCR - NICH "Anyone who wants to produce the flag and this is not yet law, going forward, would have to make a request through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the entity we have identified and they will provide them with the specifications in order to produce the flag in accordance with this standard."
A standard that, hopefully, promotes unity and not division:
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Culture "I urge you to help us to rally behind this flag as the official flag of Belize."
A statutory instrument will be issued fixing - in law - the color scheme of the flag and a formal flag protocol will be developed. There will be a 6 month window to phase out the old flag at the official level.
For those wanting more on the history of the flag, Encalada will give a full lecture on September 17th.
The Story of Belize's Flag
Earlier on in the news we told you about NICH's plan to standardize the Belize flag - so that, once and for all, the colors of all the elements, including the woodcutters can be firmly fixed and uniformly printed.
That's a big relief for one of the men who designed the flag in 1981 - former Chief Education Officer, Inez Sanchez. Five years ago, in 2014, Courtney Weatherburne sat down with Mr. Sanchez - who also happens to be her grandfather to get to the bottom of this flag business.
Here's her story from 2014:
NICH today announced that one of the newly standardized flags will be handed over to Inez Sanchez on September 21st. He was consulted in the standardization exercise.
The Flag of Belize is in the final stages of being standardized. At an event held today at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex in Belize City, the media was informed of the work currently underway to standardize the Belizean Flag.
This initiative has received bipartisan support and has already been approved by the Cabinet, with the support of the Leader of the Opposition and is currently embarking on a Consultation and Education Campaign. The endeavor currently underway is to establish a Belizean Flag that is as close to the design of the original flag flown on the 21st of September 1981 with clear guidelines to enable for accurate recreation both locally and internationally.
Note: Photographs shown on this post are the renderings of the Standardized Flag and Coat of Arms.
Above are the Flag and Coat of Arms of the 1981 Flag hoisted at Independence on September 21st. Under those photographs are the renderings of the Standardized Flag and Coat of Arms.
SUDDENLY, EXPERTS ON THE BELIZEAN FLAG ARE SURFACING. But this story has been twisted many times by guess work. The real ORIGIN of the Belizean Flag has not even been Officially told. So I offer it to you my fellow Belizeans.)
It actually began in early January, 1950, when the Founding Fathers of the Movement to get rid of Colonialism, began to search for the Symbols of the Peaceful REVOLUTION.
One morning, a 93 year old Man, Mr Bennet, came to George Price home and related a story, which his grand father had told him.
The story was, that long ago, a BAYMEN FLAG flew along the Union Jack, (British Flag), on the Flag Pole behind the Supreme Court.
Mr. Price sent for Choreographer Mr Nacho Valdez and asked him to design a flag along the description given by Mr Bennet.
Mr Nacho went to the Library and extracted the description of the COAT OF ARMS as approved by " ROYAL WARRANT dated 25th January 1907."
From here the first Belizean flag was designed, and sewn by Madame Mrs Jane Usher.
On February 2nd 1950, this proposed flag was PRESENTED to the Belizean People at the Battle Field Park in Belize City.
AND thereafter it was taken to the Districts for approval.
That same year the Angelus Press printed POST CARDS of the proposed flag, with the 50 Leaves commemorating the year 1950, WHEN THE MOVEMENT OF INDEPENDENCE was founded, ( see copy of that Post Card below.)
LET IT BE KNOWN THAT THE BLUE ON THE FLAG IS NOT A PUP BLUE, and the RED IS NOT A UDP RED. ( This Flag will remain as it is, no matter which Political Parties are in existence 100 or 200 years from now. )
I WILL CONTINUE THE TRUE STORY OF OUR BELIZEAN FLAG, as it evolved over the years. (I was there all along.)
(Please don't be misled by false prophets.)
Re: Made in 1981, The Belize Flag is Standardized in 2019
#538016 08/30/1906:28 AM08/30/1906:28 AM
Not long after the proposed Belizean Flag was publicly displayed the opposition parties began their nasty attack on the FLAG.
They called it a Guatemalan Flag. They called it George Price RAG. They called it a Maya Flag.
Some of these local BRITISHERS, used to shout, with the last breath in their lungs. " I WAS BORN UNDER THE BRITISH FLAG and I WILL DIE UNDER THE BRITISH FLAG. "
I remember on one occasion, when one of these DIE HARD NIP PRO COLONIALIST, was marching on the 10th September, all wrapped up with the British Flag - AND when they were passing by the Old Royal Bank, some British Soldiers were passing by. BUT, when they saw their flag being disrespected, they rushed at the offender and gave him a TRASHING. - When the police men intervened, they said, " NO BODY DISRESPECTS OUR FLAG. "
With all the above, The People's United Party continued the process of preparing our Symbols.
Around 1957, the People's United Party, after consulting with progressive minded persons, took the decision to introduce a BLACKMAN and a BROWN MAN on the NEW PROPOSED FLAG, which would represent the two predominantly colored ethnic people, at the time.
I remember hearing from AN OLD PERSONS THAT WHEN THE BRITISH ESTABLISHED the settlement in the Bay of Honduras, THERE WERE HUNDREDS OF WAIKA , ( Misquito men and women ) who came along with the inhabitants from the SHORE, ( Bay Islands, and the Misquito Coast . ) - So in honor of the MAYA who were here before all ethnic groups, the WAIKA who came along with the first settlers and the MESTIZO who came during the CASTE WAR, the Brown man was introduced AND HAD THE BLESSINGS of MOTHER COUNTRY ENGLAND.
SO THE INFANTS THAT ATE TRYING TO INVENT THE FLAG are too late.
The OFFICIAL AND INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FLAG OF BELIZE IS THE FLAG RAISED AT MIDNIGHT ON 20TH OF SEPTEMBER 1980-81. ( No DOTS, nor SHADES are allowed. )
Stop messing around. We will continue with the TRUE story of the Flag of Belize. on another day.
Re: Made in 1981, The Belize Flag is Standardized in 2019
#538045 09/01/1905:45 AM09/01/1905:45 AM
ORIGINALLY the proposed Flag for the New Nation of Belize was designed in early 1950, on a PALE BLUE piece of Cloth.
A round piece of white cloth, with the BAYMEN Coat of Arms inserted was sown in the center of the Pale Blue Cloth.
This proposed FLAG was presented to the Belizean people, for their approval.
With the exception of COLONIAL MINDED people, it received the approval of the majority, as was seen in the results of the Elections that followed, when the PUP swept all elections.
NOW MAY I EXPLAIN TO OUR PRESENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS.
1. - The Blue represented the Blue Sky and the sign of LOVE.
2, - The White represented the CALM clouds, and PEACE.
3.- The COROLA with 50 Leaves represents the year 1950, when the Movement of Independence was FOUNDED.
4.- The two woodcutters represent the Settlers, who founded the Settlement in the Bay of Honduras, and build it with HARD LABOR in the Mahogany Works.
5.The Implements on the SHIELD represent the tools used to cut down and extract the Mahogany Logs.
The Paddle was used in the rivers to GUIDE the logs, to the port of exportation.
The SAILING SHIP is where, the logs were transported to the foreign Market.
The ENSIGN BELOW, " Sub Umbra Floreo " is, what it means, " '' UNDER THIS SHADE ( OF THE MAHOGANY TREE, ) I FLOURISH. "
ONT THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE, the PUP Government commissioned a group of persons, to listen to the cries of the Belizeans People,who had suggestions to make.
The idea was to insert a RED signal recognizing the present TWO PARTY SYSTEM.( the UDP at that time.), So TWO RED HORIZONTAL BANDS were inserted on the Belizean Flag.
( Sad to tell the historical truth, but despite all this, the UDP BOYCOTTED ALL THE INDEPENDENCE CEREMONIES. )
I hereby acknowledge such Belizean Patriots who made their Contributions. - The late Mr David Jenkins,-The late Mr Frank Lizama,-the late Mr.Everal Waight, my friend and SJC School mate, Mr Inez Sanchez, - AND Last but not least, THE RIGHT HONORABLE GEORGE CADLE PRICE.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE ORIGINAL FLAG OF BELIZE, WHICH WAS RAISED ON THE 20th MIDNIGHT,1981,TO BRING IN INDEPENDENCE DAY ON THE 21st SEPTEMBER 1981. ( Pity to see the condition of our true Flag. Perhps a professional curator would help to reserve it. ) LET IT BE KNOWN, THAT THE FLAG OF A COUNTRY IS THE PARAMOUNT SYMBOL OF THAT NATION.- Don't disrespect it. ( Later I will describe the components of the Belize Flag as I saw it and heard it, when it was being prepared. )
Re: Made in 1981, The Belize Flag is Standardized in 2019
#538063 09/02/1906:14 AM09/02/1906:14 AM
3 weeks ago, we took you to the launch of the fully standardized Belize National Flag. The idea is to - once and for all - settle the colours and all the design details of the flag - so that all these flags with yellow men can come out of circulation.
But just what do we know about how and why the flag has evolved to what it is today? Well, NICH has been digging into the historical archives of Belize, the Caribbean, and the UK to track how exactly it has changed over the last 200 years. Nigel Encalada, the Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Research, hosted a public lecture on the flag last night at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts.
As you're aware, Belize's flag is unique because one of very few with human figures on it. But interestingly, the early models indicate that those 2 human figures were actually black men. So, why would Belize, a British settlement in 1800 - which was run by white slave owners - choose this coat of arms to identify itself?
Well, Encalada told the gathering that his research indicates that the earliest mention of it was on November 2nd, 1819. That's where we pick up the conversation on the history of the flag. Here's how Encalada explained it:
Nigel Encalada - Director, ISCR "At the bottom, you see that Marshall Bennett makes a motion, and the meeting is being presided over by Mr. Meighan. These are very wealthy men, by the way. These are the wealthiest settlers in Belize. You're looking at a population of maybe close to 4,000. And so, Marshall Bennett makes a motion, whereas it is necessary, in all well-regulated governments that a seal of arms should be had for the purpose of giving authority and credence to public acts and documents; and whereas this settlement stands in great need of the same. So that motion is put, and it is seconded by Thomas Paslow, and here you have a request for a seal of arms. Fast-forward a couple of years, if we move to the next slide, and we're at March 15th, 1821. And the minutes recorded here that the seal has been received, has been lodged and received."
"So, the question that came to mind was how in a colonial slave society do you end up with 2 black men on the Coat of Arms?"
"What you see here, on the left, is a recent reproduction of the armorial ensigns of the 4th West India Regiment. And if you look to the right, you'll see the seal of the settlement. You'll see the resemblance that is starting to emerge."
"We asked the question, well who's responsible for this? Who has this idea of putting 2 black men on the seal of the settlement? And we've narrowed it down to 3 people, Thomas Pickstock the Third, Thomas Paslow, and Marshall Bennett. Now, what is curious about these 3 individuals is that they are white individuals. That's obvious at the time, but they're very powerful. Paslow and Bennett had the opportunity to participate in the defense of the settlement, during the Battle of St. George's Caye. Both are large slave owners."
"We have here, the coat of arms of Thomas Pickstock, notice the resemblance to the seal, the similar features. You see the mahogany tree, the ship. You see the motto, Sub Umbra Floreo."
"So, how do you end up with a seal with 2 black men? That is what we're proposing. One of the situations that they were encountering was that you had an increased number of runaways to Guatemala in particular, in terms of the enslaved population."
"By this time, the abolition movement to bring about the end of slavery is in full swing in England, and in the Caribbean. You have a number of revolts in Jamaica, Haiti, Barbados. As a matter of fact in the settlement itself, in 1820, there is a revolt here in the Settlement. There's an overwhelming population disparity. By 1816, when you look at the 1816 census records, 2,742 of 3,824 persons are enslaved persons. There's a tenuous legal status. The settlers, again, are constantly wanting to retain the autonomy, but at the same time, wanting the support of Jamaica, but not wanting the interference of the superintendence. As a matter of fact, it is a settlement still in the making."
"And finally, one of the things we learned, is that in 1817, the 5th West India Regiment, which had been disbanded, they were sent to Belize. So, the dominant imagery, then, would have been the armorial ensigns of these black armies."
The lecture lasted 3 hours.
So, while that's a brief look at the history of the flag, the Government will standardize the updated appearance, which we showed you 3 weeks ago, with the use of a statutory instrument, which will make it law. There will be a 6-month window to phase out the old flag at the official level.