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Point and Counter-Point: Nationalism vs Patriotism – Miss Jane Usher and Miss Emma Boiton

Posted: Monday, September 27, 2021. 4:06 pm CST.

Тhе vіеwѕ ехрrеѕѕеd іn this аrtісlе аrе those оf the writer аnd nоt nесеѕѕаrіlу those оf Вrеаkіng Веlіzе Nеwѕ.

By Dorian A. Barrow, Ph.D., Florida State University: “I do not like what the Queen of the Bay has been brought to. We are not a beauty contest, we are a patriotic event. The Queen of the Bay was made by The Loyal and Patriotic Order of the Baymen Committee as a patriotic gesture against Guatemala … I will take it up again and steer it in the direction it should go” (Emma Boiton, Sep 19, 2017).

If George Price and Philip Goldson are the fathers of the Nation, then Jane Usher and Emma Boiton are the Mothers of Modern Belize! These two women embodies the best in all of us, namely Nationalism and Patriotism, but, they also epitomize the tensions that these two constructs have played in our national development. If we take nationalism to mean advocacy of, or support for, the political independence of Belize and the Belizean People, then Miss Jane was the ultimate nationalist, and if we take patriotism to mean the feeling of love, devotion and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment to create a feeling of oneness among the Belizean people, then Miss Emma is the country’s paradigm patriot.

From my perspective, the problem is that, in general, people in Belize have not bothered to make the distinction in their own minds between nationalism and patriotism, which ultimately is contributing to the valuing of some national icons’ contributions to our country’s sustainable development over others. Hence, the main purpose of this essay is to try and highlight some of the major differences between the constructs of Nationalism and Patriotism as seen through these two national icons, Miss Jane and Miss Emma, in an effort to try and make a case for why I think the construct of nationalism has had a greater impact on the consciousness of Belizeans than has patriotism. My thesis is that much more talent, focus and resources have been garnered and placed in our nationalist efforts than in our efforts to instill patriotism in the citizenry.

Though many of us sees these two constructs as the same, there is considerable difference between nationalism and patriotism. While nationalism emphasizes a unity of our cultural past with inclusion of the language and heritage, patriotism is based on love towards people with a greater emphasis on values and beliefs. In part, nationalism is the belief that your own country is better than others, it is the identification with one’s own nation and support for its interests, especially to the exclusion and detriment of the interests of other nations. That is why our nationalism against Guatemala, for example, has had to be tempered by our desire to remain a member of the Organization of the American States, and to ensure that we maintain good relations with countries like the United States of America and the State of Israel. More specifically, nationalism is an idea and a movement that holds that the Nation should be congruent with the State. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interest of a particular nation (as a group of people), especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining the nation’s sovereignty (self-governance) over its home land.

Jane Usher, our exemplar nationalist, and her brother George Price were among those who gave birth to the Nationalist Peoples United Party in 1950. While Mr. Price led the country to independence in 1981 and governed the country in prose, Miss Jane led the country to the ‘Plateau of Plenty’ with the spread-sheet, building one of the largest and most successful Cooperatives in the country – The Holy Redeemer Credit Union. Miss Jane taught the country, especially the little man and woman, how to save, and how to use the savings of the collective to own their own homes without touching their shares, building it brick by brick with small loans that they can afford to pay back. My Mom was one of the many who owned her first home that way. This is what I call nationalism in action – loving your country by helping yourself and others to succeed, to reach this ‘Plateau of Plenty’.

On the other hand, Patriotism, not unlike Nationalism, has many faces, each face inspiring people differently. Emma Boiton’s patriotism was inspired by a patriotic movement, The Loyal and Patriotic Order of the Baymen (L&POB), a movement led by one of Belize’s first recognized patriots, Simon Lamb, and that took root in Belize in 1946, around the same time that the Nationalist Movement that gave rise to Jane Usher’s PUP was formed. According to their Web site: “the L&POB was formed in 1946 by the descendants of the Pork and Dough Boys, the victors of the Battle of St George’s Caye on September 10th, 1798, when they claimed sovereign rights to the settlement (now Belize), from the Rio Hondo to the Rio Sarstoon and all the surrounding Cayes included… The L&POB is a voluntary, non-political, non-denominational society, embracing all sections of the people of Belize. The objective of the order was to perpetuate the memory and keep the spirit of the Baymen, who over two centuries ago heroically fought the men of Spain”. Two of the ways by which they do this is to select a Queen of the Bay every year and to parade (march) on the 10th September. As Miss Emma says, her mission is to do all she can to ensure that these two symbolic patriotic events happen every year. This act of Patriotism by showing love for country being an active citizen by actively demonstrating your love for the country by being part of its cultural, and by extension political, process is at the heart at what constitute patriotism in Belize. If nationalism was mind of Belize’s sustainable development, I would argue that patriotism is its heart.

For a nation like ours to survive and develop in a sustainable way our people need to be grounded in both constructs, nationalism and patriotism – heart and mind. In our fight against COVID, our frontline and essential services workers are our greatest patriots, but at the same time they are also our greatest nationalists and we must say thanks to inspiring icons like Miss Jane and Miss Emma, who are truly the country’s two Beacons of Hope. We must therefore find more creative ways to put more resources in both efforts.

Feel free to challenge any or all or claims made above in this essay, and let’s get this discussion going on how we can better support our nationalist and patriotic leaders.

Dr. Dorian Barrow is an educator with a long history of involvement in education in Belize, having served as a Lecturer at the University of Belize, and as Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Education. Dr. Barrow is an eminent professional who is well respected both locally and abroad. He is serving as an editorial member and reviewer of several international reputed journals and has authored many research articles/books related to education. Apart from education, he is also a sports enthusiast.


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