I’m reflecting on the moments in history in the Los Angeles Belizean Community when the former and late Belize Ambassador of Trade, the Caribbean and Africa, Brother Adalbert Tucker, used to come in from Africa and the United Nations in the 1980s and meet with us Belizean youth at the time, like Brother Nuri Akbar and myself, in some serious and educational discussions.
In chatting with Brother Nuri Akbar on several occasions, we both became saddened many times when we remembered being in the presence of such a giant of a Belizean like Brother Bert in terms of knowledge, history and consciousness, and how it all stopped and ended one day. We both cherished the times that we were blessed to have had him among us as a teacher and his kindness in educating us about the world that we never knew. Our education in terms of the transfer of knowledge that Brother Bert shared could not have been gotten from the classrooms of the college campuses that we were attending at the time. Much of the information that he passed on to us we used to write papers in many of our classes with good scores that followed. And he was very eager to share it with students like us who he realized were hungry and willing to listen.
Brother Bert’s empowerment within us did not only create a liberated mind distinct from those among our peers. But it also empowered the soul within us to organize for people and country around issues that were pertinent to the nation-state of Belize. It was not the kind of secular knowledge either to show off in terms of how much one knows. But it was a kind of fire that pushed you into action as the activists that we both had become; and that allowed us to become two of the most pivotal organizers of a grassroots organization called, BREDAA. It made us champion every issue that was relating to Belize and to become one of the most outstanding Belizean organizations in the Belizean diaspora to date. Present one to me that has done as much for Belize, and I’ll tell you that they have done only fair.
The classic photo here that shows Brother Nuri Akbar interviewing Brother Bert about his work in Namibia, Africa goes back to 1985 in Los Angeles, California. And it was during the anti-apartheid era in South Africa when Namibia was struggling to gain its freedom and independence against a racist and white supremacist South Africa that had launched a brutal war against it. The photo in this feature was taken at the home of the late Belizean historian, Ishmael Omar Shabazz. We used to have some very dynamic meetings there. Like Brother Bert, we also missed the company of Brother Shabazz, and remember them both in our hearts as men who taught us most of what we know about the world today. They raised the level of consciousness of self within us, and embraced our youth at the time, not as a hindrance to their scarce and tight schedules, but as an asset for the future of seeing themselves again through us. They were both special Belizean men.
In remembering Ambassador Adalbert Tucker during this spiritual time of Ramadan for me as a Muslim, it brings some joy, though, in reflecting on the uplifting moods he would bring into the room with his big smile and a warm embrace followed by one of the funniest jokes that you can imagine that made you laugh until you cry. He always respected the Islam among us being that he had seen it in practice so many times in his travels to Africa and embraced us as if he was a Muslim himself. He was impressed by our activism and assisted us as much as he could to grow and to organize. He was our brother as well as our teacher and mentor, and we will always miss him.
Your spirit lives on in many of us, Brother Bert. Until we meet again. As-salaam-alaikum.
(Photo through the courtesy of the BREDAA archives)