Belize has gone through a lot of changes since the British settled here and these changes were for the better. Many different people, men and women, were responsible for the proper molding of this country and its people. These people are called heroes/heroines and Belize had many of them. These people contributed a lot to this country and we, as Belizeans, should be thankful and respectful of these people because of their great efforts and dedication in making Belize a better place.
Our first hero’s name is the great Antonio Soberanis. He was a leading figure in the nationalist movement in the political arena for a number of years and he is considered to be one of Belize’s great national heroes and loyal patriots. This great man became active in politics during the depression which followed the hurricane of 1931. What caused him to become interested in politics was his opposition to the government’s treatment of laborers. He was shocked at the fact that women were being paid so poorly for doing heavy, manual work. These women were being paid five cents for every five-pound kerosene tin filled and emptied. The men working on the roads were being paid at the rate of fifty cents per day. The government organized a horrible feeding program through which the needy were fed nasty rice ‘lab’ and bread cooked in copper pots at the prison. On September 10, 1932, he fed six thousand people on the Yarborough field while being the leader of the Labor Employment Association. His political activities continued until 1942 when he went as part of a labor unit to work on the construction of the Panama Canal. His accomplishments were great and they definitely deserve great respect.
No doubt, Cleopatra White was a full-bloodied Belizean who gave her all to Belize and its people. She was an outstanding patriot and leader of merit. She was a nurse, social worker, community leader and helper in the arts. She was the second Matron of the Black Cross Nurses who did voluntary work among the community. In short, she was a person interested in the life of her people regardless of race or color and was a promoter of free expression to demonstrate and develop Belizean folklore and culture. This great woman’s contributions to the development of her people were many. She pioneered the establishment of the first Village Council in Gales Point. She assisted in the setting up of sub-libraries in the community centers at the villages where she worked, and she entertained people with skits, cultural programs and plays. She pointed the way for many in Belize and many followed. She was truly a Belizean patriot.
Another great hero worthy of mention is the legendary and famous T.V. Ramos. Thomas Vincent Ramos originated the first Garifuna Settlement Day celebration in 1941 and on November 6, 1943 he led a delegation to the Governor asking him to sanction the 19th of November as a public holiday in all the towns where a Carib population was in the majority. Because of this great man, the 19th of November is now celebrated countrywide. He also loved to write Carib hymns and he wrote a booklet entitled Carib History. His contributions to Belize were many. He established the Carib Development Society where a sick and benefit fund was implemented and put to creditable use among others. He achieved for his people the recognition they rightly deserved and he was one of the first Garifuna involved in the movements related to support the Universal Negro Improvement Association. He was truly a great man who was proud to be Garifuna.
It is apparent that Gwen Lizarraga was a great woman of this country who always thought of the poor and needy. This exceptional woman holds at least two records in this country: she was the first woman to be elected to the House of Representatives and she was also the first woman to be appointed a government Minister. In politics, her influence was broad and deep and her experience in social work had helped her to get to know many poor people and their support for her in every election had been very impressive. She was the only politician who made no secret of her opposition to the granting of a casino concession in the country of Belize. During her term of office as Minister of Education and Housing, that Ministry constructed low-cost housing in the King’s Park area and the Lake Independence area. The Hon. Gwendolyn Lizarraga deserves to be regarded as truly one of the great women this country has produced.
Last, but not least, the humble Simon Lamb. This gentleman possessed a great spirit of patriotism, and this was displayed when he did his best to continue the 10th of September celebrations. This annual celebration went well for about 10 years, but unfortunately, interest began to fade. It was then that the love for his country stirred up in the soul of this humble Belizean, Simon Lamb. He took it upon himself to gather people together, and to march and celebrate on the 10th of September not for emotion, but to honor those first Belizeans known as the Baymen, and to inspire his countrymen to love Belize. Because of his determination and his efforts, the celebration of St. George’s Caye grew big in the 1920’s and up to present day, it is still celebrated. This is enough evidence that Simon Lamb, a humble Belizean, portrayed for us love, devotion, patriotism, and dedication to the development of Belize.
In the end, we all wish that we could one day do something positive for our beautiful country like these great people did. Because of this, these people are perfect models of how a true Belizean should live and are thus regarded as great Belizean heroes/ heroines who should be respected by all!
Leo Bradley Library Archives on Belize