On November 4, 88-year-old Gerald Compton Fairweather passed away from bronchial pneumonia. To honor his memory and everything he had done for Belize, the National Institute of History and Culture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, has set up a Compton Fairweather Award for promoting Belizean music both locally and internationally. The award is for $10,000, and the first recipients were the Garifuna Collective. Minister of Culture, Patrick Faber, explains why they chose this band as the first recipient of the award.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education Youth and Sports: “Their performance I think was really really touching but of course this is no news to Belizeans who have seen them perform as well the international community that have seen them perform and it is no easy thing to take such a large group with their equipment and all of that on tour across the world. And so this I imagine and was confirmed a very expensive thing to do so naturally the Garifuna collective requires all the support it can possibly get from not only the government and people. entities like NICH, but of course all who enjoy the music. What happened was that of course they have a lot of bills but they’re putting Belize on the map and Belize is getting a lot of recognition. It was Mr.Vernon who was just commenting that once upon a time people did not know where Belize was and now thanks to efforts like those of the Garifuna Collective and others and of course a good push from our tourism industry people now know exactly where Belize is but not only know where we are they also know what we represent, they know our music, they know our people, they know our culture as a result of efforts like this. Also it gives us an opportunity to highlight in this time although now posthumously I believe in his lifetime however the country did pay tribute to Mr.Gerald Campton Fairweather and of course the nation now knows thanks to the news and good stories that have filled the media over the past week and a half of his contributions to our country’s development via his push to end the Guatemala dispute, to help Belize get its independence and of course we’ve learnt of other aspects of his life which include his recording studio business and of course the promotion of Belizean music in the 60’s and 70’s. So it was just an opportunity that we could not give up, we could not pass up to bring this all together to tie it all together and give commendation both to the Garifuna Collective and to Mr.Fairweather and to support the Garifuna Collective in their ever growing quest, very expensive quest to try to take the Garifuna music – Belizean music – to the rest of the world.”
The band’s leader, Al Ovando, told us that they are appreciative of the support.
Al Obando, Band Leader, The Garifuna Collective: “This is actually what we came back with and the Minister actually acknowledged and basically in like the first minute of talking with him we told him we’re ready for 2020 the gigs are coming in and people are asking for the group but we’d have the leverage because we come off of 2019 and he helped us and he is helping us find a way. So this is like an award for the group and it goes toward the 2019 tour like we are still in the red. We have a dialogue now, we have an understanding now and between us and the minister we have a way of moving forward to help the situation and it’s a healthy discussion and so in terms of morale it puts us in a better light because for the longest it was just a discussion ; like we’ve been emailing no answer but all of a sudden now we have this discussion now where he is into it and so we’re more at ease moving ahead and taking on the gigs and know that we have the backing and there’s way we don’t have to worry about the next day and that next day finance and stuff like that but slowly we can try to elevate ourselves from that and with initiatives like this one and many more to come we think we have a way forward.”
Compton Fairweather owned and produced at CES records, a Belizean music label in the 60’s and 70’s.