Kulcha Symposium Underway
The first-ever Belize Kulcha Symposium, headed by Heritage Education Network Belize, got underway virtually this week. One of the keynote speakers over the three-day event was Belizean writer, poet and heritage specialist, Ritamae Hyde-Talla. She is with the UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, headquartered in Paris. She touched on how culture builds our identities and shared some interesting pieces of Belizean history that some of us may not have known about before now. Music composer, Alexander Evans, shared a bit of history on steel pan music in Belize.
Ritamae Hyde-Talla, Keynote Speaker, Culture Symposium
“How many of you know that during slavery in Belize, drumming was punishable by death? Yes. Enslaved Africans could be sentenced to death for drumming and exercising their culture. This was not unique to Belize, but was the case in most of the Caribbean as the institution of slavery was implicit in cultural suppression. The fact that drumming has survived in Belize and the Caribbean is testimony to how cultural heritage can be used to reinforce our identities. Culture constitutes our well-being, giving us the strength and the resilience needed to face uncertain times such as the present with the COVID pandemic, which has plunged the global economy in recession and has impacted all sectors, including health education and culture.”
Alexander Evans, Music Composer
“During the years following the arrival of steel pan in Jamaica and the formation of their first steel band in 1954, two Belizeans of particular note would attend UWI Mona and join the university steel band. These were Dr. Lennox Pike and Dr. Colville Young. The latter we know would go on to become Belize’s Governor-General and is undoubtedly one of the single most influential individuals to the development of music in Belize over the past several decades. In 1965, Drs Pike and Young would return to Belize and form the All-Star Steel Band – Belize’s first steel band, which was initially comprised of six members. So just to put it into perspective, this musical instrument hasn’t even been in existence for a full century, not even ninety years, and it’s been in Belize for almost sixty years.”
The Kulcha Symposium has one more day of presentations. Log in to the Heritage Education Network Facebook page for their live stream on Friday.