This week, Amandala spoke to several of the 12 invited participants, grouped in four discussion panels. All expressed excitement and professed to be honored and humbled to be among the select few to present at this pioneer event.
Attorney and former journalist Audrey Matura-Shepherd, who has recently become a passionate advocate for environmental issues as vice-president and local representative of the environmental group Oceana, today told us that it is important for writers to be recognized, because “we are messengers; we use art to send a message.”
Matura-Shepherd added that her presentation will deal mainly with the issue of freedom from a historical and legal perspective. She said she is looking forward to the opportunity to air her own views and listen to those of others, because: “in an era where information is lacking, bullets are flying and personal attacks are made, the pen is [still] mightier than the sword.”
Attorney Sharon Pitts-Robateau, who famously confronted the negotiators of the Special Agreement with Guatemala right outside our Partridge Street compound nearly 3 years ago and has been active in promoting Belizean patriotism and nationalism, particularly with relation to the Battle of St. George’s Caye, took a long-range view of her topic, discussing the viability of independence for the Belizean nation-state 30 years on.
According to the attorney, she hopes the conference’s attendees leave reminded of their own commitment, both as individuals and collectively as citizens of the Jewel, to the development of the nation, and the identity and way of life of the people.
“…our citizens can dream, our youth can dream, we need them to dream for this country to progress, but to fulfill those dreams they must ever work to realize them. We have here a nation that still needs to forge statehood, to hone and temper it…” she told us.
Pitts-Robateau foresees, turning to the artistic aspect of the theme, what she calls a “renaissance” of art, philosophy and local thinking, but reminds Belizeans that Belize needs to be “resolute, whatever the odds. Nation-building is a task that is never finished. We have produced excellent individuals. We now need to build on those standards. Sometimes we take the accomplishments of these individuals for granted; that talent we have must be honed and directed. We are not a bankrupt country; we can have prosperity as a nation if we continually challenge ourselves, both locally and in the worldview.”
She asked, “What is our mandate, as individuals and as compatriots?”
Master painter/artist and founder of the Punta genre of Garifuna music, Delvin “Pen” Cayetano, who has settled down in his home country after trekking back and forth to Europe during an illustrious career, told us that his presentation will focus on tracing the history and development of local art and artists, music and musicians, and where they will go in the future. He also plans to present his own composition of “Land of the Free” – Belize’s National Anthem – and his painting Sons of Belizelda, as well as his take on the development of local politics in Belize.
Other scheduled presenters include Ismail Shabazz, Myrna Manzanares, Dr. Corinth Morter-Lewis, Amado Chan, Elroy “Gentle Giant” Perdomo, Ivan Duran, Tony Wright, Clinton Uh-Luna and Dr. Jaime Awe.
Channel 7 News director Jules Vasquez is the keynote speaker and preliminary formalities will be handled by the Kremandala team of Adele Trapp and YaYa Marin-Coleman.
Entrance is free and portions of the conference will be broadcast live on KREM Radio, as well as via Rainbow FM in Corozal and Universal Radio in Orange Walk. We will have a detailed review of the event in our next issue.
Article courtesy Amandala