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Mar 28, 2022

Zee Edgell Memorialized Fifteen Months after Death Due to COVID

Zelma "Zee" Edgell

Belize’s first author to receive international acclaim for her book “Beka Lamb”, professor and journalist, the late Zelma Edgell, nee Tucker, M.B.E., was remembered today at an official ceremony. The event at the House of Culture came fifteen months after her death in December of 2020. It was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols and scheduled to coincide with International Women’s Month. On hand for the fond farewell was News Five’s Marion Ali.


Holly Edgell

Holly Edgell, Daughter of Zee Edgell

“I loved my friend. He went away from me; there’s nothing more to say. The poem ends soft as it began: ‘I loved my friend.’”


Marion Ali, Reporting

The lines that Holly Edgell read from the poem entitled “Poem” by Langston Hughes, describes the friendship she had with her mother, the late Zee Edgell. Characterized as a renaissance woman by Minister of Education, Francis Fonseca, Edgell was charting her own course well ahead of any other man or woman of her time.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education & Culture

“She was committed to breaking the bias and shattering glass ceilings long before themes would become the rallying cry of a principled and progressive global women’s movement. Her works were so much more than fiction and her life was so much more than writing.”


Edgell’s daughter, Holly, endorsed Fonseca’s encapsulation, sharing that her mom, though pressed by the demands that surrounded her work, ensured that she made the time for that ever-important ingredient of being a mother – family-time.


Holly Edgell, Daughter of Zee Edgell

“When my brother and I were small and we didn’t know she would wake up at four in the morning, go to her typewriter, that’s when she would write. So that by the time it was time for us to get dressed, go to school, she had all of her attention on us as children. Another part of the day for her and my father was bedtime and at this time they would read to us or sing or both. And this is also a treasured part of my life.”


Major Errol Robateau

Major Errol Robateau, who presented the homily, spoke of her enduring legacy. He quoted from the eulogy given by Justice Lisa Shoman at the family funeral last weekend.


Major Errol Robateau [Presenting the Homily]

“Writers like Zee are gifted beings that hold up a mirror to our faces so that we are obliged to see who we are. There is no gift more precious or more rare, and Zee had that by the bucketful.” Zee Edgell came into this world empty-handed and left empty-handed but during her lifetime used all she gained to enrich many lives who came within the area of her influence. She did that with her teachings and will continue to do so with her writings.  She has left this world a richer place for those coming up behind and Belize must be grateful that she is one from our soil.”


Governor-General, Dame Froyla T’zalam presented Holly Edgell with a folded Belizean flag, in honour of her mother’s invaluable contributions to literary arts in Belize.


Marion Ali for News Five.


Although she is best known for Beka Lamb, Zee Edgell also wrote the novels “In Times Like These”, “The Festival of San Joaquin”, and “Time and the River”. In 2021 the National Institute of History and Culture initiated the annual Zee Edgell prize for literary arts. Its first recipient was Evan X Hyde, founder and owner of Kremandala.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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