By Aaron Humes: A family member of the late Samuel Alfred Haynes wrote us today to say that February 28 is the 125th anniversary of his birth in 1898.
Haynes is best known as the writer of the poem “Land of the Gods” in his twenties, which was amended to become the Belizean National Anthem “Land of the Free” in 1981. (The accompanying music was written by Selwyn Walford Young in 1963).
Haynes served in the British Honduras Volunteer Guards during World War I in Europe and witnessed the 1919 Ex-Servicemen’s Riots in Belize Town as it then was. Later, he became a devotee and associate of Jamaica’s Marcus Garvey, acting as president of the Pittsburgh Division and later Official American representative of the Universal Negro Improvement Association-African Communities League (UNIA-ACL).
He later settled in New Jersey where he married and had two sons and a daughter – Samuel Jr., Ronald (who visited Belize a few years ago), and Iris, of whom only Ronald survives as of 2019. He died on July 1, 1971, a few months before British Honduras was formally renamed Belize and a decade before his poem was adopted in song.
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