The Creole Culture

According to Google, a Creole is a person of mixed European and Black descent. For a long time people of the America’s have basically been acquainted with the creoles from the state of Louisiana in the United States of America, but this is not the only place in the America’s Creole people and cultures are found. Creoles can be found all over the American mainland and all over the Caribbean island nations.

There may be some evidence that some scholars have been testing of African presence in the New World before the birth of Christ. So far, for many researchers, there is need for more convincing evidence before there is full commitment to this important research. There is evidence for the systematic transportation of African’s as slaves to Santo Domingo beginning on January 22nd, 1510. The sugar plantation work which started the year before, was too harsh work for the ‘native slaves’ of the island of Hispaniola. This presented the advent of Africans in the New World and the option for a new group of people and a new culture.

In Belize, the first Europeans landed at the mouth of the Belize River in 1635. The first great industry in the country of Belize was logwood for dyes to color textile in Europe. The second great industry, and the one the English stayed in the country for was Mahogany.

Mahogany, like sugar cane was not a job the European wanted to do for a living, even as lucrative as it was. At the end of the day, they were pirates and their forte was the high seas and the robbing of Spanish vessels coming from South America. The first Africans came into the country of Belize as slaves in the year 1722. The first to sign with an “X” was a woman.

The Creole genetic mix more than likely started in what is today’s Belize City. Not surprisingly, today the largest populations of creoles reside in Belize City. In the time of Mahogany, the coast was the early area of extraction of the precious wood. Eventually, there was much more to harvest but it had to be hunted and harvested inland, via the Belize River.

As one drives up from Belize city toward San Ignacio Town the villages after the junction with the Hummingbird highway reflect the examples of the mahogany camps of the colonial period. It is by no surprise that one would see a bungalow and next to it a house on stilts – after all, these people were coming from today’s Belize City which averages up to two feet below sea level, hence houses on stilts was the main architectural design of the colonial past. The interesting idea of houses on stilts throughout the country of Belize today, is that they can be found in locations up to five hundred feet above sea level.

Michel Foucault once wrote a paper on “the power language”. He wrote about the colonial period where colonialists went into ‘new lands’ and flexed their muscles and basically and especially in the time of slavery – because they were the people with the guns – forced their language on people to learn at a very fast pace because the language one must speak, is not his or his ‘friends’ language (the Africans spoke different languages and more than likely none in a separate and particular group spoke each others), but the language of the guy with the gun. In the case of Louisiana, Quebec in Canada, and Haiti, the power language was that of the French.

In Brazil, it was that of the Portuguese and in most of the Caribbean and Belize, it was English. The Creole language in Haiti for example, if one speaks French and the Haitians would speak their Creole slowly, one would understand at least words or a gist of it. Similarly for Belize – If you speak English and we speak Creole slow enough you may just be able to understand us too.

The creoles have a rich culture and undoubtedly the rice and beans with stew chicken, potato salad and fried plantains is the national food of Belize. Yum! The Brukdown music (guitars, and turtle shells and other percussion instruments) are also attributed to them. The city culture is strongly Creole and the Northern Belize district is perhaps the heartland of Creoles in the country – cricket included! The Creole people are very beautiful. Phenotypically, they can be very dark with kinky hair, to Caucasian with blond hair and green eyes. This culture is certainly one of the cornerstones and building blocks of the country of Belize.