This above all: To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
– HAMLET, Act I, sc. iii, lines 78-81
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And to hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”,
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
– Rudyard Kipling
Kremandala reached a peak of power twenty five years ago when the Kremandala Raiders became champions of semi-pro basketball in Belize. I think that some very big people at that point decided that we were getting too big for our britches on Partridge Street. The Raiders represented a supreme management and business effort on Kremandala’s part. It was an investment in youth, and in basketball as an urban entertainment industry which, in my opinion, could not possibly fail.
On the eve of my birthday two weeks ago, I dreamed of a “little man,” a proud black man by the name of Richmond Fitzgibbon, from Victoria Street. I saw him very clearly in my dream, and after I woke I thought of a tall man they called Farouk, who used to work at the old slaughterhouse. I thought of Farouk along with Mr. Fitzgibbon, because to me these two represented black Belizeans who had believed in me in the early days almost a half century ago.
The accomplishments of Kremandala, for whatever they are worth, could not have been possible without the rock-hard foundation laid by Belizeans like Mr. Fitzgibbon and the one Farouk. There were, of course, many such loyalists in the early days, and indeed through the decades. It is important to me to respect the memory of people like these two men who have stood for us through the years.
It may be that Kremandala has become a legitimate part of the business/industry landscape in Belize, in the sense that Kremandala may not have to remember, cherish, and dwell on its historical legacy. Personally, I don’t believe that we don’t have to remember and cherish. But you must understand that nowadays I represent the past. Kremandala has a future in which I will not play a critical role.
There are people in decision-making positions on Partridge Street who were not yet born in 1969. A lot of things have changed over the decades. The media field is crazy competitive in Belize, and it appears to me that Belizean Kremandala has to compete with some systems which are subsidized by international interest groups.
When I was a young man, I ran in three different elections, municipals in 1971 and 1977 and a general election in 1974. I did not come close to winning in any of these. In fact, I lost badly in all three, and there were opponents who enjoyed the opportunity to ridicule me publicly. But, electoral politics was not my calling. One of the reasons for that was because I was raised in a maritime culture which was anti-democratic. You could only move upwards in rank on the sea if your intrinsic worth was such that the all-powerful captain, autocratically and arbitrarily, promoted you. There was no such animal as a vote by the crew. On the sea, then, it was as if you were in a permanent state of emergency. Perhaps the maritime culture was too embedded in me; perhaps I believed too much in intrinsic worth.
Whatever the case, after all these years we saw quite recently in two elections, one municipal and one trade union, where the indications were that the Kremandala system enjoys a deal of credibility with Belizeans. I have said little about these elections, because no one was voting for me. These Belizeans were voting, in part, for a historical process which has stood for certain principles.
There was a time in Belize when there was a government radio monopoly. All information broadcast on Radio Belize had to be submitted by the Chief Broadcasting Officer to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Broadcasting. The news in Belize, in other words, was censored by the ruling party until 1989, when KREM Radio began operation.
One reason KREM became possible was because Amandala had become so powerful that it didn’t matter how much the ruling politicians controlled the radio news. The news in Belize had become Amandala.
Before Amandala in 1969, there was The Belize Billboard, which first provided alternative news to colonial propaganda in the early 1950s, and in 1958 began to publicize the opinions of the then Opposition National Independence Party (NIP). During its anti-colonial years, two publishers of The Billboard who were also leaders of the People’s United Party (NIP) had been jailed for sedition in 1951. But, by 1969 The Billboard had become reasonably respectable. Amandala was coming out of a different bag. New generations of Belizeans were beginning to cherish Africa instead of Buckingham Palace. It was quickly decided by the power structure here, in early 1970, to jail the two Amandala publishers for sedition. This was when roots Belizeans like Richmond Fitzgibbon and Farouk stepped in and said, you will have to fight us in order to jail them.
So it was that Amandala survived, and created a new approach to public information. Amandala was roots. KREM Radio came in 1989, followed by the Kremandala Raiders in 1992. But, perhaps there was a glass ceiling. Or maybe, to repeat, very big people simply decided that we were getting too big for our britches back here. There is an oligarchy in Belize, beloved, and the people who made Kremandala possible were people whose ancestors had been oppressed by slavery, colonialism, and white supremacy. These were people in search of liberation. The oligarchy in Belize, and the politicians the oligarchs control, collaborate with white supremacy. Liberation is not something on the oligarchs’ agenda.
And so, having been put into our roots places, here we are in 2018, and the key point I have sought to make in this essay is that it will not be Evan X Hyde who decides where Kremandala goes from here. I would hope that those who will make the decisions understand the history and legacy of Belizeans like Richmond Fitzgibbon and the one Farouk. These were good men, and I will honor them forever.
Power to the people.