Creole

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alt"Ah wah no who seh Kriol no gat no kolcha"the cheeky lyrics to a song written by Kriol Gyal Leelah Vernon are now permanently etched in the consciousness of every proud Belizean. The Creole community is often charged as having no true culture of its own, but in fact, of all the ethnic groups it may be the one that is most identifiable and accessible to the masses. The Creole in Belize was born as a result of the miscegenation between the African slaves and their white European masters. Physically, members of the Creole community are perhaps not as easily distinguished from other ethnic groups. The intermingling of black Africans and white Europeans resulted in persons of diverse physical features - complexions for example that range from very fair to tan to dark brown, as well as hair that ranged from thick and wavy to soft and curly. 

Slaves from Africa were imported in the prime of their youth, and the most sought after were those that seemed physically fit, and capable of performing laborious tasks. They were brought to the settlement during the 18th century, at the height of the exploitation of the New World, when both the slave trade and the practice of slavery were socially acceptable.  At that time, white slave owners or those that intended to buy slaves chose Africans who seemed most capable of being productive and whose health appeared sure. In Belize, slave importation increased as the need for labor grew in the logging industry.  By 1745, slaves made up approximately 71% of the population and by 1779 roughly about 86% of the total population.

Slavery was officially abolished in 1838, and as time passed, and as the social and racial constraints imposed on masters and ex-slaves slowly dissolved, unions between the two became more frequent and apparent resulting today in what we know as the Creole of Belize.  Their slave experience however, has been very deeply embedded in Creole psyche, but in turn their adaptability has allowed for the survival of many aspects of African culture combined with some of the cultural aspects of the European settlers. Today the Creole are for the most part a very easy-going and accepting people, they embrace the assortment of cultures found in Belize as well as the complex origins of their own. In Belize it is the Creole language that serves as a unifying force among the various ethnic groups that grace our inviting shores.
 

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