The Keynote Speaker for the
Dr. Marciael Holmes,
the Killeen Worship
Christian Center, whose topic was “Diversity.”
the colorful National flags of every Caribbean country, including
Belize’s, as a backdrop behind him, Dr. Holmes encouraged
the participants to constantly meet the challenges to diversity, without which no community
anywhere can grow or survive. He said that the reasons why we all
had gathered there that afternoon is because we each recognized
the importance of us accepting our differences and celebrating
of our unity, which
is what Diversity is all about.
Holmes’ remarks were followed by several entertaining activities,
including performances, raffles, contests and a fashion show.
The Killeen Worship Christian
Center’s Gospel Choir and Step Team, the Zion Temple 5 Miracle
Dance Group, the Saturday Night Skaters and the Umoja Drummers
and Dancers had the audience’s attention riveted to
Music was provided by local Virgin Islandan; DJ Smith & Co., who, with video
cameras rolling all around the hall, and seen on screens, brought
his regular Saturday Night Jams at the Fort Hood Patton’s Inn out live
and direct to the diverse assemblage, so everyone, adults and
children alike, can savor and enjoy the sounds of the Caribbean. If his beats didn’t drag you to the dance floor, believe me; they
certainly had you tapping your feet and bopping your head on the
There were booths galore situated
all along the entire wall of the center, some were businesses,
some, vendors. Then there was Belize’s.
With their National Flag prominently
displayed, the Belizean Association in Killeen/Texas was participating in this fest
for one thing, and one thing only; which is to represent, to show off,
and promote the Jewel of the Caribbean.
Upon given the opportunity to say
a few words,
the Belize contingent conveyed greetings to all the nations represented, from the “Heart of the Caribbean
The contingent went on to explain
why Belize, even though located in Central America, is considered
more a Caribbean Nation, than it is Central American.
Renowned for its peaceful demeanor,
laid-back atmosphere, and its tolerance to ethnic differences, Belize is the only English
speaking country in Central America.
Like most of the Caribbean nations,
it is a small, tight knit country of only 8,867 square miles in
area, and a population of a mere 240,204 (according to the 2000
census estimates) inhabitants.
The history of Belize is intertwined
with that of the West Indian islands. Its people experienced and
overcame the same growing pains of colonialism.
The Belizean Association in Killeen, Texas is a semi-official
organization, representing all the ethnic groups of Belize. Originally formed in 1998 by a group of active
duty and retired soldiers, and their families, in order to have
the first ever 19th of November/Garifuna Settlement
Day celebration in this area, its main function today is to cater
to the social needs of Belizeans and Garifuna from anywhere, who
comes to serve in Fort Hood. Membership is open to all Belizeans and all Garifuna
residents of Texas.
at the Belize booth, from left to right are: Glenda’s Garifuna
Guatemalan friend in Ft. Sill, and Belizeans: Leslie Gomez, Yvette
Gentle Usher, Verna Young Castillo, Joseph Flores, and SGT Irma
“Glenda” Castillo-Robinson, presently stationed in Ft. Sill, OK.
The Belize booth had a host of items
on display, to read, and to give away.
There were music CDs and tapes of many of our favorite artists and groups, including;
David, Mohobub, Titiman, Lord Rhaburn, Mr. Peters’ Boom &
Chime Band, Babylon Warriors, The Revelations, Punta Rebels, Ugurau,
and of course, Andy P, Don Justo and Bill Cayetano. There were history and geography books, and newspapers
that are available on the Internet.
Hundreds, if not all those who came to the fest, stopped
at the Belize booth, to view the display, talk, ask questions,
and to get the colorful, informative posters,
magazines, brochures, and guides on hand, courtesy
of the BTB.
Sherron "Ayana" Ashanti, co-owner of the Caribbean Tea House & Gift Shop,, and the brainchild
of this Fest, did an absolutely outstanding job of putting the
Ayana is one of those rare people, a Diamond
in the Ruff. Upon arrival
here some three years ago, she saw the need for programs in
this area that would bring the people from the Caribbean together.
Ayana didn’t go around complaining,
like most of us would. Instead,
she took it upon herself to do something about the situation.
She is a perfect example of
someone standing up and being counted in making a difference. In being a part of solutions instead of aggravators
the results this first fest is any indication of what’s to come,
there is no doubt that from here on it is not only going to
get a bigger and better event, but more fruitful as well.
The Belizean Association in Killeen/Texas; “the City/State Without
Limits,” would like to recognize and thank a number of people
and entities not already mentioned.
BaBatunde & YeTunde of Under One Roof African/American Books Store
and Gift Shop in Killeen. The Association was contacted thru a listing of Afro American
organizations and countries represented here in the Central
Texas community, that they publish in the Newspaper: The
thank the good office of the Belize Tourism Board in general, and Joycelyn
McKoy; The Assistant to the Director, in particular, for
answering our call for help, and sticking with us right up to
the very successful end.
to Belizeans Glen and Ardeth Petillo Savery in Houston;
for raising their hands to be of assistance if needed.
to Belizeans Jules and Maria Fuller, of Hospitality and Tourism Services,
Katy, TX, BTB’s Fulfillment House in the U.S. They were
the people of the day , who went all the way, up to the
very last minute of the last hour for us. They did not just
make a difference, they made it all happen; for the Belizean
Association in Killeen/Texas, and the
Annual Caribbean Jam Fest in Central Texas.
Forward to seeing lots more of us at next year’s.