BELIZE CITY, Mon. Aug. 13, 2018– Today is Amandala’s birthday. Forty-nine years ago, the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) introduced its own newspaper, Amandala, on August 13, 1969.
The early editions of Amandala were printed on a Gestetner machine which was bought with money that was donated to Evan X Hyde by one of his Dartmouth professors. Members of UBAD also raised funds through events such as dances and the selling of food.
When it first hit the streets, Amandala was nothing but fire, pure and incorruptible fire, challenging the colonial status quo. The newspaper was first sold at 5 cents, as it continued to rail against the injustices of the then backward colonial British Honduras, with its mantra being for Freedom, Justice and Equality, emphasizing “Black and Proud” as a cultural philosophy of upliftment for the marginalized Creole and Garifuna peoples.
Its first publisher was the UBAD officer, the late Ismael Omar Shabazz, and the first editor was the young Evan X Hyde, fresh out of Dartmouth College. The early Amandala was spiced with poetry and political commentary directed at the government of the People’s United Party and its leader, George Cadle Price.
By October 1969, Amandala merged with Assad Shoman and Said Musa People’s Action Committee to become Amandala with Fire. By 1970, Fire had folded and Amandala returned with its own masthead.
In February 1970, the colonial authorities of British Honduras charged Amandala publisher Shabazz and UBAD president Hyde with seditious conspiracy because they misinterpreted a satirical piece of writing in Amandala entitled: “The Games Old People Play,” which made fun of an election petition that was taking place in the Supreme Court. Hyde and Shabazz were eventually acquitted of the seditious conspiracy charge.
Here is the full text of “The Games Old People Play”:
“Games Old People Play”
Starring: Clifford De Lisle Innis
Edward Laing (International)
Agapito Hassock, other famous lip professors and cast of yeri-so PUP and NIP fanatics.
See: The rats of Charley Cadle Price
See: The bald white dome of S. Hulse
Thrill to the Dramatic Ending:
Dismissal of the Case.
UBADRAM advice to the cast of children: After this, let’s play Mommy and Daddy: Hee, Hee.
By the time UBAD dissolved in the mid-1970s, Amandala began charting a different course. The newspaper, while it maintained its strident Belizean nationalism focus, also began to look toward the economic side of things and the creation of jobs in the depressed southside of Belize City where it had set up its headquarters on Partridge Street.
UBAD president Hyde officially dissolved the organization in 1974. UBAD began as a cultural organization and had a brief life as a political party, but the newspaper Amandala survived and continued its growth.
As the 1970s dragged on, Amandala invested in a Chandler and Price letterpress that lasted until 1977 when again it made another technological jump, this time into offset printing that was being used by newspapers such as The Belize Times and the Chamber of Commerce’s Reporter.
When Belize became an independent state in September 1981, Amandala was already poised to become the new nation’s leading newspaper. Since independence, Amandala has literally gone to war with both PUP and UDP governments, but has still managed to maintain its objective independence in its service to the nation state and the Belizean people.
By 1989, Amandala had pioneered the emergence of Belize’s first private radio station, KREM Radio and in 2000, it received a license for a television station, and by September 2004, KREM Television came onstream to complete the communication complex that is now known as KREMANDALA — Amandala newspaper, KREM Radio and KREM Television.