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The Creole People

The Creole of Belize share a common ancestry, they are the offspring of African slaves imported to work the logging camps and European adventurers. Most of the slaves came from West African (between the present countries of Senegal and Angola) by way of Jamaica. Many of the Europeans came from Scotland and North Britain. While the majority of the Creole population claim a slave/European ancestry, East indians, Mestizos, Asians and Garinagu have all intermarried with Creoles and have adapted the Creole culture.

Creole Woman

The word "Creole" comes from the Portuguese "criar" meaning "to raise a child born into a family". As the Portuguese expanded their empire into Brazil, the word mutated to "crioulo" with a meaning of African slaves born into the New World. Eventually the meaning included Europeans born into the New World. Today, the word defines the language and tradition of the African-European community. Belizean Creoles have created the word "kriol" to mean the language of the Creoles.

In addition to standard English, Creoles in Belize speak the "Kriol" language, considered by some as a completely distinct language evolved from but no longer a dialect of English. Creole traditions in Belize are a collection of cultural aspects from many other ethnic groups. For example, their proficiency at dory (small wooded canoes) building was inherited from the Miskito Indians; their love of Cricket and sports comes from the English; and the Anancy stories brought with the slaves from Africa.

Just as many Creole traditions are derived from other cultures, so the food has been adopted from other ethnic groups. From the Mestizos comes chimole, escabeche and panadas. From Africa comes bambam and dukunu. The Creoles love coconut milk and use it to prepare the staple rice and beans, fish stew and Creole bread.

Even after the abolition of slavery, the Creoles continued to work the logging camps. Today, this tendency is reflected in the location of the dominant Creole towns - Monkey River and Punta Gorda - along waterways and the coast.