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Sep 20, 2023

Belize @42 Mural Unveiled in Belize City

In keeping with what has become a September tradition in the Old Capital, this morning the Belize @42 Mural was unveiled. Each year, for the past four years, the National Celebrations Committee and the Belize City Council have been working with artists from the city to create murals in recognition of Belize’s independence. Gilvano Swasey is the mastermind behind this year’s art. However, he did get some help from a group of artistic students. News Five’s Paul Lopez was at the unveiling ceremony. He filed the following report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Belize National Celebrations Committee and the Belize City Council unveiled the Belize @42 Mural on the corner of Cemetery Road and Dolphin Street. The mural was inspired by a 1981 art piece entitled “get your head together for independence”. The features colored face silhouettes of individuals from various ethnicities. The lead artist behind the work of art is Gilvano Swasey.


Gilvano Swasey

Gilvano Swasey, Artist

“You look at it and people will say, why this, where are there eyes and nose? But, let us get to the inspiration. We had to have an inspiration. This image over here that says get your head together for independence, that was the inspiration. This was the original poster from 1981. It was developed before that because we had to get our head together and this is a powerful poster not just for then but for anything. Yo wah put your grocery list, pay your bill, get in a relationship, you have to get your head together, you have to know where you are going. So, that was the inspiration. For me it was the simplicity of it. It is a creole person, a Belizean person and just the little colors, the hair style, same as the images on the murals. These images are actually from original photos I took about twenty-years ago. The children are actually St. Mary’s School children that pass the image factory every day. These are now adults, parents, probably sending their kids to school. So, it has a history and a story. And I decided to put three words, words are very important, we don’t read enough, and the words, the first one work, and that is from Mr. Price the Belizean people must lear to work. But work is crucial. And then, learn if you are working you learn and that is how you develop your ideas and move on and make your other challenges a little bit easier. And most important, share, we get this knowledge and we must share it.”


Several high school and college students also contributed to the creation of this year’s mural. That budding artists were recognized at today’s unveiling ceremony with a certificate for the time they invested in bringing the mural to life. Mayor Bernard Wagner reflected on the importance of art and culture in the Old Capital.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Mayor, Belize City

“Art and culture in a city for me is very important. And, I have heard it said before that art, that art is non-partisan and that is what we are seeing here today. Today’s unveiling of this really breathtaking mural which was inspired by this 1981 art work which says get your head together for independence. Them days we needed to get our head together. We really needed and so today it is still relevant. We continue to enjoy freedom and independence, but we always have to renew and spend some time for reflection to renew our focus and purpose. We must continue to get our head together for purpose, for inclusion and for more opportunities for our young artists, so that they can make this a platform to really drive their passion for life and pursue colorful paths and self expression. I really want to big up the students and the entire artist who participated in this event.”


Francis Fonseca, the Minister of Culture delivered the keynote address at today’s unveiling. In his remarks, Minister Fonseca spoke about the significance of Belizeans moving into the future with a united vision.


Francis Fonseca

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Culture

“This year we celebrate under the theme, Hope Ignited, Hands United, Vision Renewed, very fitting theme. We always have to have hope. These young people give us hope. We have to have hope in the future. We have to work together, unity is key to success of doing anything. We have to be united. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss and debate and differences of opinion. But at the end of the day we have to be united and have a common vision for where we want to take our countries and communities. Vision keeps changing, keeps evolving. You can’t have a stagnant vision, a vision on your wall for twenty years. That vision has to change and be renewed, constantly evolving and changing based on the circumstances of our lives and the state of our nation and needs.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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