Sandra Coye’s impact on me since her attending my Islamic wedding in 1986 in Los Angeles, California, has been something that is very difficult to erase from my memory, especially since her physical disappearance from Belize’s social life. She has stood out all the time for me as a Belizean woman of considerable brilliance and tenacity rarely seen in any woman of African heritage across these post-colonial slave societies in the Americas and across the African diaspora.
During my producing of Raymond Gongora’s documentary feature on what we here at Belizean Legends called, “The Belizean Artistic Renaissance”, Coye’s work came alive again in her dynamic poem called, “Genesis of Destruction”, that was used in an award-winning monologue at the 1976 Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA). It is a classic Belizean protest poem that was highly praised across the English- speaking Caribbean since the awesome Belizean artist, the late Beverly Smith-Lopez, brought it in monologue to Carifesta.
Not only did Sandra’s explosive words trouble the still waters of the Belizean status quo at home, but it also annoyed the political power structure in Canada where the legendary Belizean drama group, “Square Peg Players”, took it to the international stage. “Genesis of Destruction” appeared to have been too political for the Canadian authorities, which at first wanted to deny the revolutionaries of Belizean theater their chance to present it. Were it not for “Square Peg Players’’” steadfast protest to present Coye’s loud call to pay attention to British colonialism in Belize, “Genesis of Destruction”, would have suffered the far-reaching fate of the suppression of dissent commonly seen in these so-called western democracies.
Since yours truly’s first encounter with this incredible woman of Belizean soil in 1986 in Los Angeles, and later again in 1999 in Belize, where she was very visible in Belizean society expressing her open views about Belizean politics, Sandra completely withdrew herself but continues to be heard on Belizean radio, continuing her constructive criticism of Belizean governments both past and present.
She has become a daily voice of conscience for the struggling masses of the Belizean people today even in her physical absence, and her powerful monologues of protest can still be heard even up to today on call-in talk shows. She has become for many Belizeans today their voice of dissent to speak for them where they cannot speak; a voice of resistance that it appears will continue until her demise.
And so, in this small but touching reflection and tribute to a strong voice against oppression, re-colonialism, and racism in Belizean society today, Belizean Legends honors an activist and revolutionary who has walked among us and stood for something rather than nothing. A Belizean artist extraordinaire who lent us her passionate words of wisdom in her poems that took Belize to many corners of the earth and expressed the will of its people to be.
We at Belizean Legends cherish your artistic brilliance and acknowledge your great work for people and country, Sandra Coye. May your powerful spirit of a woman of resistance continue to live on in many a generation of Belizeans to come. We celebrate you, as your voice stays strong and resilient against political injustice in Belize.