7 News Belize

The Revival in Flower's Bank
posted (June 15, 2009)

If you went through the Belizean education system, chances are you don’t know about the men recorded in history as the Flowers Bank Negroes. They were 12 men who may changed the course of history in 1797 by casting the deciding votes in a town meeting to determine whether the Belize settlement – then under threat from a Spanish fleet – would stand and fight, or flee from the threat. They decided to stay and that – as they say - has made all the difference. Their contribution to Belize’s history has been acknowledged but not widely championed – until Saturday when a monument was unveiled to honour their contribution. It was a major event, with the seal of officialdom and the air of history. 7News was there.

Jules Vasquez Reporting,
The Belize River that runs through Flowers Bank is a portal into Belize’s history – it is this same river which carried logwood down to the Belize harbour – giving the settlement its reason for being. But less known is that on the first June 1797 – it carried 14 men down to Belize town for a historic vote.

Dr. John Morris, IOA
“The fourteen men travelled from Flower’s Bank to Belize Town, what was called Belize Town then and their votes were the deciding votes that allowed the Baymen to remain in Belize Town and defend the area against the Spanish invasion. If they had not arrived there and had not cast their votes perhaps today there would be no Belize Town.”

Carlos Clarke, Flower's Bank Resident
“If the men from Flower’s Bank hadn’t gone to the public meeting and voted to stay and defend the settlement then we probably wouldn’t have a Belizean settlement and so. We would probably be a Spanish territory or something like that.”

The monument opened on Saturday celebrates the 14 men – 12 of them black - who paddled down to Belize town on first June 1797, to Belize two to register their vote for the settlement. Some of those men are buried somewhere behind these cages in this small village cemetery, but their memory and their legend is very alive now more than ever before. They were hailed as heroes at a high powered dedication ceremony on Saturday.

Ritamae Hyde, ISCR – NICH
“Dear God help us we pray to connect the beneficent spirit of our heroes, ancestors, benefactors, and patriots in each and every way.”

And to fill out the setting as a true Creole revival, on Saturday in Flowers Bank – Mr. Peters and the Bum and Chime played brukdown, to the delight of most, Swallow and Wicked 11 played cricket, Creole antiquities were exhibited and the mood seemed to say, “it’s our turn.”

Dr. John Morris,
“History shows us that perhaps one of the longest standing peoples in this country are the Creoles. It is unfortunate that over the last two or three decades the archaeology has focused primarily on the ancient Maya but we are changing that today.”

Changing that outlook, but in Flower’s Bank, where time is as unhurried as this lazy river, residents have long revelled in the certain knowledge of what is only now becoming widely disseminated fact: that its sons gave birth to a nation.

The monument was donated by Dr. Neil Garbutt, who was not well enough to attend, but thanks were given by his brother.

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