Friday, January 29, 2010





PHOTOS COURTESY OF: Barak Sekeles, © SOBO Dan, Photo by Ester Inbar, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Photo by Eli Zahavi, courtesy of Piki Wiki Israel, Photo by Dror K, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


As you probably know, Haiti still needs our help. Haitian authorities say the death toll is well over 150,000, and survivors are coping with serious, untreated injuries, and a lack of access to food and water. As time moves on, so will the images and sense of urgency. And it will be more difficult to raise needed funds to support the people of Haiti. Donate through trusted charaties that provide humanitarian aid.

If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider doing so now.
There are many ways to donate: American Red Cross International Fund, UNICEF,Yele Haiti and many more...

Saturday, January 23, 2010



The purpose of marriage is Love, Intimacy and Companionship, not just childbearing. And a perfect match, a match made in heaven is called a soul mate. Finding a soul mate doesn’t mean that the marriage is trouble-free. A marriage, like everything worthwhile in life, requires dedication, effort and a whole lot of energy. Even when two people are meant for each other, dedication and love must be displayed by both, if you are not a team, you can ruin your marriage. “It is not good for man to be alone.” Gen. 2:18

Arranging a marring is as difficult as parting the Red Sea; as part of the wedding ceremony, the husband and wife sign a contract symbolically. This contract spells out the husband obligation to the wife during marriage, conditions of inheritance upon death and obligations of support of children from the marriage. It also provides the wife’s support in the event of a divorce. Other conditions can be included by mutual agreement. But today this kind of contract is replaced by a pre-nuptial agreements, which is very common in the United States.

Congratulations on your Wedding Day! Wishing you both Love and Happiness!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I want to let all Haitians know that I stand with them in this very difficult hour.

As you almost certainly know, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Tens of thousands of people are dead, and a third of the country's residents may need emergency aid.

This very serious earthquake has further intensified the poverty and suffering in Haiti. It is my hope that the world will realize that it is not enough to be united only during tragic times, but that unity is required at all times from all of us. For any other country in the Western Hemisphere, something like this is a disaster; for Haiti, it is an apocalypse. 

My prayers go out to the Haitian people; the living, the injured and the departed.
 Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and its past 200 years of history is one marred with corrupt governments and multiple invasions of internal affairs by the US and France.

The Haitian people are strong. Their country was the first free black country in the western hemisphere. During the colonial era, Haiti and Ethiopia were the only free and independent black nations.

When Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and the League of Nations lifted its sanctions against Italy and the rest of the world was indifferent to Ethiopia’s suffering under Fascist Italy, Haiti was there. Haiti was one of only five countries that refused to recognize Italy’s conquest, along with the U.S.S.R, USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

Haiti was the world’s first independent Black Republic, and many of us feel a special pride in the country’s origins. Haiti’s former slaves took on Napoleon and declared their independence from France in 1804, many years before the United States, and the rest of the Western Hemisphere would end slavery. In those early years, the small island nation was seen as a thorn in the side of its neighbors in the Americas and Europe. With their act of defiance, Haitians proved that black people could govern themselves at a time when leaders of the world’s most powerful countries considered Africans and African descendants less than human.

Since that revolutionary moment, the country’s resident have often suffered. Haiti has four out of five people living in poverty, and 50% of its population cannot read. The 2008 hurricane season was especially devastating for Haiti where more than 800 people died from four consecutive storms (Faye, Gustav, Hanna and Ike), and thousands more were left homeless.

Tuesday’s earthquake dealt the latest and most devastating blow to Haiti. The recovery will be long and hard. The financial support we give today needs to be just the beginning, but this will be a crucial start. It is the time to help, and we must do so with urgency. Please consider giving what you can; give without desire for recognition. 
Below are some of the organizations that are providing critically needed services.

World Relief
YĆ©le Haiti



Friday, January 15, 2010


James Alexander Nehemiah Rhaburn 105 Years Old
A Younger James Rhaburn
James with his children:(L-R) Genevieve, Evan, Elswith and Wincy

THE OLDEST MAN LIVING TODAY IN CROOKED TREE VILLAGE AND POSSIBLY BELIZE was born in the final moments of 1904, as roosters in Revenge Mahogany and Logwood Works were crowing in the New Year. Mary Jones Rhaburn gave birth to her fifth child, and third son, the one chosen to bear his father’s name – James Rhaburn – on December 31, 1904.  In those days, the itinerant ministers (pastors) traveled circuits to attend the needs of the members of their congregation in their homes. It wasn’t until late in 1911 that one such minister visited the Rhaburn family in Revenge and had a mass christening service. On the 17th November, 1911 James, by then just short of his seventh birthday, was christened along with two younger siblings – Iris (3 years) and Mary (6 months) – and four cousins, namely Ada for his Uncle Jonathan Rhaburn who was born in February 1902 and Alberta (3 years), Benjamin (17 months) and Isaac (11 weeks) for his Uncle Elijah.

He grew up as the youngest son of his parents and big brother to four younger sisters. With a total of nine children in this family, James, the middle child, never lacked for company or for chores. Since the family earned their living from harvesting mahogany, it often fell to the younger children to assist their mother while the older men and boys were out camping during the logging season. By the time his father died on 1 February, 1921 in a logging accident, twenty-six year old Nathaniel (Uriah) and eighteen year old John had already left home and started their own lives, so James became the man of his mother’s house at sixteen. His older sisters Emma and Estelle were also already gone, so he was the only one left to help his mother care and provide for the four younger girls – Iris, Mary, Lucille and Adora (who was only three years old when she lost her father). James worked hard to help his family. After his father’s demise he went ‘to bush’ with John, his brother, to harvest chicle as a way to help bolster the family income. He said when he first started he was still such a softy, he had to wrap his legs in burlap (crocus bags) to ease the scraping, banging and bruising they were constantly being subjected to while working.

At some point during his early years, most of the Rhaburns, except old Elijah, left the 24,000 acre family estate called Revenge Works and settled on property they owned in Crooked Tree. The property in Crooked Tree was referred to by Samuel Rhaburn, James’ uncle, in his will dated 7th May, 1890. He left both Revenge Works and Crooked Tree Works to his brothers, sisters, children and wife ‘as tenants-in-common’. Being the eldest son of James’ grandfather, Samuel and his mother, Emma Elizabeth Alexander Rhaburn, had become the administrators of the estate in 1885 after the death of John Augustus Rhaburn, on 27th November, 1884.

James was not alone in his struggles to fill the gap left by his father’s death. His mother was a resourceful, skilled and well respected woman. She was a midwife and healer. James recalls with pride how many in the village depended on her to heal their ills and attend their child birth beds. He can still clearly recall the day a man in the village was severely injured in a horse racing mishap when his horse galloped under a low hanging tree branch. Ms. Mary worked very hard to set his broken bones and patch him up for the long journey to Belize by dorey. When he finally arrived at the doctor’s office more than a day after he incident, the doctor reportedly told those who had brought him that there was very little to be done that had not already been done for him. Basically, all that was required after Ms. Mary’s treatment was time to heal and probably something for the pain.

In his early years James fathered two children by Daisy Wade. Ionie is his eldest child. His son Mervin migrated to Guatemala at an early age and it is uncertain what has become of him. James often wonders about Mervin and he is mentioned in many conversations. It is his fondest wish to find out what became of his first born son.

In time James met Winifred Usher there in his village. Together they raised nine children – Evan, Norma, Wincy, Bernice, Elswith, James, Genevieve, Maridell, and Faye. They were hardworking, dedicated parents who instilled the discipline and good moral values necessary in their children to enabled them to become the well-rounded citizens they are today. James and Winifred remained together until 24 July, 1987 when Winifred succumbed to injuries she sustained during the robbery of their little shop in Crooked Tree.

In his lifetime James did many different things to provide for himself and his family. He happily relates stories of camping out for long periods logging, harvesting chicle, or farming. A smile still lingers on his face when he speaks of the many hunting trips he took to bring game home to share with family and friends. It makes him happy to remember the many fish he caught while striking at night on the lagoon. He also enjoys talking about those who were talented musicians and of some of the fun sporting events they had in his days.

He was appointed as a Justice of the Peace in September 1969 and has faithfully served his community in that capacity since his appointment. Except for visiting his children in the United States of America, James has lived his whole adult life in Crooked Tree and until he was over a hundred years old, he could be found living alone in his little wooden house on stilts behind the ball field. He spent many hours sitting under that little house chatting with people, relaxing and reading.  It was amazing how agile he was with his walking stick as he negotiated his way up and down those unstable-looking stairs with a big smile on his face as he welcomed his visitors, or ascended them to get something from upstairs. Yet as fate would have it, it wasn’t until he moved into the new house (a bungalow), that he fell and broke his hip; which lead to his immobility. Thankfully, his children and community have been faithful, caring and supportive of him in his old age and infirmity, so he is well tended and visited by many.

To this day Uncle James, as we call him, is still a smiling cheerful person. His memory, hearing and eyesight are still very much intact and, until recently he was an avid reader. Being bedridden has not soured him and it is a pleasure talking to him.

He once told his grandchildren he would live to a hundred and eight years old and they are hoping he will; but he appears to be tiring now. When asked recently about his hundred and sixth birthday, he said, “That is a tall order. You know how long a whole year is?” In responding a comment about telling us the secret to his long life, Uncle James said he feels God has blessed him greatly and he thinks it may have something to do with the fact that he always tried to be kind and fair to those around him. He said as long as he had what someone needed, he would give to them. That was when he smiled to recall the dozens of fish given to the women of the village after a night of striking and the lovely chunks of venison shared with friends and family. He said he had no problem in giving; because he knew they needed and he could always go out and get more for himself when the need arose.

Whether Uncle James lives to see another birthday or not is not more important than the fact that he has already lived a longer and healthier life than most, having survived all his siblings, except the youngest, ninety-two-year-old Adora Rhaburn, who lives in New York. He has lived a full and productive life that has earned him the respect of his community and the love of his family. In living all these years, he has gathered a large storehouse of knowledge we would be wise to gather from. Even more amazingly, God has blessed him and us by allowing him to have excellent recollection and a cheerful, friendly disposition even at this advanced age. I personally feel honoured as his grandniece (his sister Lucille’s granddaughter) to have been privileged to know and spend time with him, sharing in his memories and stories of a time and people long past. James Alexander Nehemiah Rhaburn is a living testament to one hundred and five years of our family, his community and Belize’s history and he should be honoured as such.

Note: This article was written by Ruth McCulloch Neal in honour of her granduncle, James N. A. Rhaburn, following the occasion of his one hundred and fifth birthdays at the request of Linda Crawford Elul for publication on her Crooked Tree Village Blog.

Ruth has an abiding interest in Belize’s genealogy and family history and is in the process of compiling her extended family tree on which she hopes to include stories and pictures of our families, both past and present. This tree already includes information on many families throughout Belize including: Adolphus, Bedran, Bennett, Betancourt, Burn(s), Cadle, Crawford, Dawson, Flowers, Gillett, Jones, McCulloch, Meggs, Neal, Reyes, Rhaburn, Sutherland, Swasey, Tillett, Vernon, Wade, Waight, Westby and many others. She hopes this project will help to create a sense of self in us as Belizeans (especially the younger generations) to help anchor us as a people and she hopes it will become a gift for our future generations. If you wish to contact Ruth directly, write to her by email at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


As you are all aware, Haiti has been devastated by a massive earthquake. Death toll from Tuesday's quake may exceed 100,000. Thousands of injured people are waiting outside of badly damaged hospitals and in the streets for care, and unknown more are trapped under collapsed buildings. Haitian President Rene Preval told CNN "we need water, medicine, we need rescue workers to clear the streets so we can reach the hardest hit areas, the Presidential Palace has collapsed, the Parliament Building has collapsed, the National Cathedral has collapsed, schools and hospitals."

If you are interested in making a donation toward earthquake relief, here are some of the ways you can help. If it's even a dollar, please open your hearts to the people of Haiti.   Text YELE To donate $5.00

Or Text "Haiti" to 90999 To donate $10.00

Photos courtesy of MSNBC.COM

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From the Culture Capital of Belize........Dangriga

Charikanari 2 from Belize Vacation on Vimeo.

Charikanari may have originated as a spinoff from the Joncunu Festival. Descriptions of 17th Century performers mention two forms of dressing: the beautiful, presumably like our present day Joncunu dancers and the grotesque described as wearing cowhead attire with real horns worn over a head wrap and a wire screen mask. Today's Charikanari "cow" and "hunter man" surrounded by a group of masked dancers offer hours of entertainment to the young spectators who amuse themselves by teasing the players.

Performers go from house to house entertaining the community with antics. Boys and men dress as women while wearing a masks and dance. The "Two Foot Cow" taunts children who tease him with "moo moo, no tail".

 Charikanari is performed in the Garifuna communities during Christmas, up to the 6th of January (or the weekend closest). It is believed to be a spin off from another festival, Wanaragua

It is a mimed dance where a "hunter man" is looking for the "Two Foot Cow". It is like a play unfolding  with the dancers doing antics and the Two Foot Cow is teased and in turn taunts the spectators. It can be funny to see how the cow dances and shakes his bottom while kids try to smack him and run.

 Wanaragua - John Kunnu 1 from Belize Vacation on Vimeo.

Inside the ring of onlookers is a loose circle of dancers awaiting their individual turns to perform, beginning with the youngest. With forearms extended, the incessant hypnotic movement of the dancer's feet match the rhythm and pattern of the two drummers. But it is the dancer's movement that dictates the drummers' beat and not the other way around. Paying keen attention, the drummers know when to pause, when to change the rhythm, and how to keep the flow. Each dancer brings his own unique style and flavor so the dancing is not repetitious. Audience participation and approval is sought with displays of grace, trademark moves and the occasional comical gestures.

Wanaragua also known as John Kunnu, this masked dance was once performed throughout the Caribbean at Christmas time, one of the few events during the year when slaves were free to dance and party for an extended period of time. Dressed with fanciful headdresses, knee rattles, and in whiteface, John Kunnu dancers would visit the houses of their master and receive foods and drinks in return for riotous entertainment.

In Belize and other areas of the Garifuna domain, parties of John Kunnu dancers roam from houseyard to houseyard, collecting payments during the Christmas season. Wanaragua masks were once made of basketry but are now cleverly constructed of metal screen and painted with a stylish face.

- St. John's College, Belizean Studies Resource Center

Saturday, January 9, 2010


What is a bush kitchen? A bush kitchen is really a temporary shelter hidden in the bushes where a hunter or poacher can hide or store poached smoke meat or fish for an extended period of time. But bush kitchen was a normal part of my childhood in Crooked Tree Village; it provided all the inspiration for my culinary skills today.

 I truly love this kitchen, a great fire hearth, where the fish is smoked from the fire that is kept going all day, you could pretty much cook anything you like over the open flames. The “grub” box is fully stocked at all times and the spice rack is well equipped. Tea time in the evenings is always with Johnny cakes made fresh daily.

I really miss this part of my childhood. Sometimes I feel cooped up inside a big stuffy modern kitchen. The food in this bush kitchen is fantastic and that’s all that really matters.

Thursday, January 7, 2010



Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in Africa. It still follows the ancient Julian calendar, so Ethiopians celebrate Christmas on January 7. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church's celebration of Christ's birth is called Ganna. It is a day when families attend church.

The day before Ganna, people fast all day. The next morning at dawn, everyone dresses in white. Most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. The shamma is worn somewhat like a toga. Urban Ethiopians might put on white Western garb. Then everyone goes to the early mass at four o'clock in the morning. In a celebration that takes place several days later, the priests will dress in turbans and red and white robes as they carry beautifully embroidered fringed umbrellas.

Most Ethiopians who live outside the modern capital city, Addis Ababa, live in round mud-plastered houses with cone-shaped roofs of thatched straw. In areas where stone is plentiful, the houses may be rectangular stone houses. The churches in Ethiopia echo the shape of the houses. In many parts of the country there are ancient churches carved out of solid volcanic rock. Modern churches are built in three concentric circles.

In a modern church, the choir assembles in the outer circle. Each person entering the church is given a candle. The congregation walks around the church three times in a solemn procession, holding the flickering candles. Then they gather in the second circle to stand throughout the long mass, with the men and boys separated from the women and girls. The center circle is the holiest space in the church, where the priest serves Holy Communion.

Around the time of Ganna, the men and boys play a game that is also called Ganna. It is somewhat like hockey, played with a curved stick and a round wooden ball.

The foods enjoyed during the Christmas season include wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs as well. The wat is served from a beautifully decorated watertight basket onto a "plate" of injera, which is flat sourdough bread. Pieces of injera are used as an edible spoon to scoop up the wat.

Twelve days after Ganna, on January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration called Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ. The children walk to church services in a procession. They wear the crowns and robes of the church youth groups they belong to. The grown-ups wear the shamma. The priests will now wear their red and white robes and carry embroidered fringed umbrellas.

The music of Ethiopian instruments makes the Timkat procession a very festive event. The sistrum is a percussion instrument with tinkling metal disks. A long, T-shaped prayer stick called a makamiya taps out the walking beat and also serves as a support for the priest during the long church service that follows. Church officials called dabtaras study hard to learn the musical chants, melekets, for the ceremony.

Ethiopian men play another sport called yeferas guks. They ride on horseback and throw ceremonial lances at each other.

Ganna and Timkat are not occasions for giving gifts in Ethiopia. If a child receives any gift at all, it is usually a small gift of clothing. Religious observances, feasting, and games are the focus of the season.

All Photos by Linda


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Are you looking for a good coffee table book of incredible beauty for a gift? Well look no further! Here is the perfect book about Belize. Heavenly Belize is a beautiful exploration of Belize from the air, sea and land. I was mesmerized by these scenes of Belize; for me it brings a new energy to protect what we have, and work to prevent irreparable damage to our eco-system and our planet. 

Whether you believe in global warming or not, I hope that with these beautiful photographs we can reflect on the many difficult questions of which we sometimes have no answers for to save “Mother Nature’s Best Kept Secret”. We are all responsible and contribute to our planet’s condition. 

Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, Marius Jovaisa is a photographer, publisher, a documentary film maker and world traveler. Heavenly Belize is the second of his big albums of aerial photographs after Unseen Lithuania published in 2008. Mr. Jovaisa lives in Lithuania and is one of the owners of one of the largest marketing communications group in the Baltic.

”I have been fortunate enough to visit many countries in the world. While each has its distinctive charms, I have to confess that Belize is as unique a place as I’ve ever seen. I hope that in this book I have successfully conveyed the country’s special attraction. Have an inspiring flight above Heavenly Belize!”

Marius Jovaisa’s new book titled HEAVENLY BELIZE is now available at various book stores across Belize and orders can be placed online by visiting the Website at  The price is about US$60.00

AND HERE:Mr. Amin Bedran-Georgeville, San Ignacio, Cayo 
Phone +5018243255

Publications: UNSEEN LITHUANIA, check it out at

Friday, January 1, 2010


This is a segment to honor and recognize outstanding Belizeans and their descendants for their accomplishment and contributions to life.  As a proud Belizean, I believe it is imperative that we support and promote Belizeans both at home and abroad. You are an important part of our community. We hope we can inspire our children to reach for the stars.

You can nominate a candidate for Belizean Spotlight that you believe has excelled or contributed to our life.

Previous “Spotlight of the Month” can be found in the archives.


John A. Gillett was born in the peaceful village of Crooked Tree to his parents John and Zillah Gillett, both of whom are now deceased. He grew up in the traditional life style of the Village having to do his daily chores such as milking Cows, beating rice, cutting firewood, and of course having to assist with the routine of farm work.

He attended the Crooked Tree Government School and as he was allowed to skip Std I, reached Std VI at the tender age of 10 but due to the age constraint had to wait another year until he was allowed to take the Scholarship examination. When the age was right he took that examination and passed; he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Belize Technical College (BTC).

At that time BTC offered both secondary and tertiary level education and after completing his Sixth Form education in chemistry and Biology in 1972, he joined the Belize Sugar Industries Ltd as a Trainee Chemist, where he was again granted a Scholarship and was sent to London, England where he was qualified as a Chemist and also took courses in Sugar Technology.

After returning to Belize in 1976, he took up the position as Factory Chemist, a position he held until 1985 when he was promoted to that of Production Superintendent. From 1985 onwards, BSIL has sent him to numerous Countries around the world including Brazil, many US States, Jamaica, Trinidad, Curacao, Guatemala, Mexico, UK and more recently a Four Month period in Swaziland and South Africa.

This preparation led him to take up the post as Factory Manager of Belize Sugar Industries Ltd since December of 2006 up to present.

In spite of all this responsibility, he still finds time to frequent the Village of Crooked Tree regularly and to overlook his Farm where his love for cattle and horses remains undisturbed.