Our beautiful Land of The Free by the Carib Sea is a melting pot of diverse cultures and we all proudly sing our National Anthem in our official language English. The Belize National Anthem was written in 1963 by Samuel Alfred Haynes and set to music by Selwyn Young. The Garifuna have made a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem in Garifuna and now the Queen of Brukdown – Leela Vernon has decided to translate Haynes’ words into Creole.
Thanks to the Queen of Brukdown – Leela Vernon, “Land of the Free” is now in Belize Kriol as “O, Lan a di free.” In a recent interview broadcast on radio stations in the United States, Vernon explained that translating the anthem into Creole is her way of helping her ethnic people to better understand what they are singing.
“When in Belize, the first thing you need to understand that the Creole language binds all the ethnic people together here,” commented Vernon to Reporter Amy Bracken of The World radio news magazine. “And they have to talk Creole to communicate, so that makes the whole think unique, very unique.”
The grand launch of Leela Vernon’s Creole version of the National Anthem took place on Saturday, October 29, in Punta Gorda Town. The CD launch featured a live performance of the anthem by Vernon backed up by distinguished musicians Emmeth Young and Henry Martinez.
About Leela Vernon:
The Creole Culture Queen of Belize – Lila Genus Vernon, a true Belizean musician. This year, 2011 makes over 35 years since Leela has been bringing music and her philosophy to the heart and soul of the people of Belize. She is one of the pioneers behind keeping the Creole culture strong.
In 1987, Leela formed the Ebolites Dance Group, the purpose of the group was for Leela to express her own talents, and she ended up succeeding in touching the hearts of many. The group grew to over 72 members and also started doing drama. The main objective always was to educate the Belizean people and the world about the rich Creole culture, the history, the food, the lifestyle, the relation with other Belizeans, and nationalize the Creole music. Leela spent a lot of time making presentations at primary schools, high schools and at universities and in 1994, Leela was asked to entertain the Queen of England in Punta Gorda, her hometown.
Leela Vernon is the Vice- President of the National Creole Council of Belize and is also a founding member. In fact, even before the National Creole Council was formed in 1995, Leela had the first ever Creole Council in Punta Gorda, and she continues to head the Toledo Branch.
In 2001, the CD Leela Creole Culture was produced; the leading song on the CD later became the mantra of all Belizeans – ‘Ah Waahn Noa Hoo Seh Kriol Noh Ga No Kolcha?” This phrase became the spirit of inspiration for all who loves the Creole culture and language and in extension the Belizean Culture.
Leela Vernon is a true Belizean woman who has dedicated her life to the development of the Creole Culture in Belize.
Belize Anthem in Creole:
“O, Lan a di free.”
O, Lan a di free bai di Kyaribeeyan See
Wi korij wi plej fi kip yu free
Unu tairant kyaahn stay ya; unu despots hafu goh
Fahn disya plays a demokrasi.
Wi ansesta blod don bles disya grong
Dats wai wi wahn free; nohmoh slayv wi wahn bee.
Git op – aal weh kohn fahn di Baymen klan
Put aan unu aama; difen disya lan
Jraiv bak di enimi; unu enimi hafu goh fahn ya!
Fahn wi lan a di free bai di Kyaribeeyan See.
Naycha don bles – mek yu rich rich rich
Oava mongtin ahn vali weh graas ron gud
Wi ansestaz, di Baymen, schrang ahn brayv
Jraiv bak di enimi; kip dehn weh fahn ya.
Fahn prowd Rio Hondo tu oal Saastoon
Chroo koaral reef, oava bloo lagoon
Kip wach wid di dehn aynjel, di staarz ahn moon
Kaa freedom wahn kohn sotay tumaaro noon.
Belize Anthem in English
O, Land of the free by the Carib Sea,
Our manhood we pledge to thy liberty
No tyrants here linger, despot must flee
This tranquil haven of democracy
The blood of our sires which hollows the sod,
Brought freedom from slavery oppression’s rod
By the might of truth and the grace of God.
No longer shall we be hewers of wood.
Arise! Ye sons of the Baymen’s clan,
Put on your armors, clear the land!
Drive back the tyrants let despots flee-
Land of the free by the Carib Sea!
Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold,
O’er mountains and valleys where prairies roll;
Our fathers, the Baymen, valiant and bold
Drove back the invaders; this heritage hold
From proud Rio Hondo to old Sarstoon,
Through coral isle, over blue lagoon;
Keep watch with the angels, the stars and moon;
For freedom comes to-morrow’s noon.
Want to learn more Creole or at least understand it a bit better? Here is a great website that does just that. Kriol Word of the Day. Also follow them on their Facebook Page, Ambergris Today surely does.
For more information on how to obtain a copy of the National Anthem in Creole or purchase Leela Vernon's new album contact: PGTV/Fireside Records, Callte Landing Village, Punta Gorda, Toledo District, Tel: 501-610-0978, Email: [email protected]