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Let’s go fly a kite! Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 30 March 2017 00:00

It is typical for March to be thought of as kite flying month. With the approach of Easter, the lovely weather, and fresh breeze, why not? March has optimal kite flying weather to satisfy the desires of little boys and girls who want nothing more than to raise their kites everyday. The kite flying experience boosts our culture as well as our nostalgia. I didn’t grow up as an enthusiastic kite flyer myself but I was always excited to see the little children in my neighborhood pull out their intricately designed kites and take them to the heights of the sky.

So far in 2017, I have seen maybe 10 kites being flown, and I feel even that is a stretch. I am certain that I am not the only one who has missed the sight of beautiful handmade kites filling the blue Easter skies. I cannot be the only one who wishes that that part of our culture would grow year by year rather than lessen.

Are our children becoming more consumed in indoor activities that require little to no physical input? Are they becoming too dependent on technology? Are we neglecting to share our culture with our little ones?

The kite flying tradition and festival date back as far as 1975 and possibly even earlier. Unfortunately, support has dwindled over the years. There have been several initiatives by businesses and individuals teaming up in an effort to preserve the activity that has ever been a part of our culture. Kite flying has been passed from generation to generation, and it would only be in our culture’s best interest to save the tradition. The preservation of the activity has taken on many faces. Kite flying doesn’t only serve as entertainment, it also brings family, friends, and neighbors together; from conceptualizing the designs, purchasing materials, making them, to walking to the nearest park to put the kites to the test of the wind, kite flying used to be vividly Belizean.

The Bowen and Bowen and Benny’s companies partnered up in 2012 to encourage kite flying in the country while celebrating homemade kites. The Hopkins community holds annual kite workshops/festivals and boasts to have the favorite place to fly a kite, alongside breathtaking scenery. By 2015, they had already held 11 annual kite festivals. The two initiatives also held competitions where prizes were gifted based on kite making and flying abilities in both junior and senior categories. In 2012, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) offered a grant to the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) to hold a Kite Making Training-the-Trainer workshop. The initiative was of the RESTORE Belize Programme, a crime prevention initiative, which operates directly out of the Office of the Prime Minister.  The mission was “to make Belize a safe, vibrant home for residents through inclusive, multi-sectoral, and citizen-centered action.” To capture the interest of the youth and give them constructive activities that were fun and taught team building skills were the hope of the program.

Kites were usually homemade and assembled using natural and man-made materials. Typically, parts of a coconut tree leaf were used to create the structure of the kite and decorated with plastic or even tissue paper, adhesives, and any other decorative elements, especially as it comes to making the tail of the kite.

Given all the programs that have aided in keeping the tradition alive, there is more we can do as a people. There can be all the workshops in the world but if the people are not willing to participate, they are in vain. One very important thing to consider is that children most likely won’t be interested in the activity unless they are made to understand the importance it plays to both our culture and a family activity that ties several generations together.

My hope for near years is that we submerge ourselves in our culture, that we not be ashamed, that we appreciate all that our ancestors have made for us. In all honesty, we have, for a long time, lived in the shadows of more powerful countries. At times, many have thought it better to adopt their culture, ways, and lifestyle while casting off our own. We however, must learn to be proud of our identity and take pride in the unique position our country holds in Central America and the Caribbean. It is not the culture that makes a people, it is the pride of the people and appreciation of common history that makes a vibrant culture. It is a people satisfied in their own uniqueness that makes a nation, and sometimes it starts with something simple as flying a kite on a windy day.