Celebrating the Life of Leela Vernon
As the country prepares to put her to rest, Leela Vernon’s sprit was alive on Monday night. A tribute to honor the iconic ambassador of Belizean Creole culture took place at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts; the lineup of artists paying tribute was impressive and included the singing of the national anthem in Creole by Ernestine Carballo. In life, Leela was at the helm of the promotion of the Creole culture. Through music, she carried that message loud and clear but last weekend, she passed after ailing with complications of the kidney. News Five’s Duane Moody looks back at her life.
“The Heart of a Country Is It’s Culture” – those were the words spoken by Brukdown Queen herself, Leela Vernon, who even in death continues to be a voice for the preservation and promotion of the Creole Culture in Belize. On Monday night, many local musical artists converged on the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate the life of the PG personality. The tribute was organized by the National Institute of Culture and History in collaboration with the National Kriol Council.
Dana Rhamdas, President, National Kriol Council
“Miss Leela is significant to the Creole Council, not only because of her unit, but because of her passion for and dedication to the preservation of the Creole culture. She was one of the founding members of the national Creole council along with others such as Myrna Manzanares, Sylvana Woods. One of Leela’s deepest desires was to have a National Creole Day and even as she was ailing, Miss Myrna went to visit her and she continues to express this desire. In her honor, the NKC will pursue this dream that she had.”
Leela’s passion was expressed through her involvement in eco-cultural tourism and she established a Creole Museum at her home in Punta Gorda. Cultural Attache Myrna Manzanares did a poem writing for the woman, who is revered by many.
Myrna Manzanares, Cultural Attache, National Kriol Council
“Leela, mi friend, mi inspiration. Nobody else deh pan this earth like you Leela. Nobody else weh put fi deh music and di deh culture way up top ah di top like you gial. If only others mi got fi you passion and love fi den yah things weh show yo own true self, yo culture. No matter if yo dah Creole, Mestizo, Garifuna, Maya, East Indian or any other culture ina fi we country, then Belize woulda come together fi true and we nation woulda get lotta blessing.”
One of the founding members of the National Kriol Council, Sharon Pitts also took the mic at the tribute, reminiscing about the inspiration Leela was to culture, in general, as well as the country.
Sharon Pitts, Founding Member, National Kriol Council
“If we miss the vision and the inspiration of Miss Leela—not just this generation, but all the others will be lost right. Miss Leela, on top of all the things weh yo hear already, when she talked to me, she was a lady about museum, she used to talk fast. Ih brains used to work fast, the words dehn use to tumble out of yo mouth. And I learn from Miss Leela that when yo look pan what connect Belizeans, nothing stronger than the culture.”
Duane Moody for News Five.
Leela Vernon will be laid to rest in her hometown, Punta Gorda this coming Thursday. The government is organizing an official funeral to send her off. At eight o’clock tonight, we will be airing Monday night’s tribute to the Queen of Brukdown. So stay tuned for that program.