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Belize@42 Mural on Dolphin Street recalls famous 1981 Independence poster

Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2023. 9:42 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The fence surrounding Rogers Stadium on Cemetery Road and now Dolphin Street has for the past four years served as a sort of canvas, replacing the old advertisements with celebrations of national identity.

This year’s masterpiece was produced by Gilvano Swasey, supported by young artists from Northside schools St Catherine Academy and St John’s College (High School). Their inspiration: a 1981 piece from Joan Duran (father of Stonetree Records’ Ivan Duran) of a faceless Kriol person mounted by the phrase “Get Your Head Together for Independence.”

Swasey says he took original photos of various schoolchildren passing the Image Factory North Front Street address from St. Mary’s Anglican School and others: “These are now adults, parents, probably sending their kids to school. So, it has a history and a story. And I decided to put three words, words are very important, we don’t read enough, and the words, the first one work, and that is from Mr. Price the Belizean people must learn to work. But work is crucial. And then, learn if you are working you learn and that is how you develop your ideas and move on and make your other challenges a little bit easier. And most important, share, we get this knowledge and we must share it.”

City Mayor Bernard Wagner reflected on the importance of art and culture in the Old Capital: “Art and culture in a city for me is very important. And, I have heard it said before that art, that art is non-partisan and that is what we are seeing here today. … We continue to enjoy freedom and independence, but we always have to renew and spend some time for reflection to renew our focus and purpose. We must continue to get our head together for purpose, for inclusion and for more opportunities for our young artists, so that they can make this a platform to really drive their passion for life and pursue colorful paths and self-expression.”

Minister of Culture Francis Fonseca says the result speaks to the hope provided by young people: “We always have to have hope. These young people give us hope. We have to have hope in the future. We have to work together; unity is key to success of doing anything. We have to be united. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss and debate and differences of opinion. But at the end of the day, we have to be united and have a common vision for where we want to take our countries and communities. Vision keeps changing, keeps evolving. You can’t have a stagnant vision, a vision on your wall for twenty years. That vision has to change and be renewed, constantly evolving and changing based on the circumstances of our lives and the state of our nation and needs.”

Later, he told reporters of what Independence now represents for Belize: “I think every independence anniversary, every celebration of independence provides us collectively as a nation and opportunity to reflect on where we have come from the past and we pay tribute to those who have worked and fought for self-government and independence so we pay tribute to them we can never forget those people. Then of course it offers us an opportunity to reflect on where we are today, the present state of our union, the present state of our nation and of course what’s critically important is what is our vision for the future. So, you know its past, present, future that’s the spirit of these celebrations as we go into Independence Day…”


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