Features — 13 June 2014

June 12, 2014

The Belize Rural Economic Development of Agriculture through Alliance (BREDAA) issues the following official statement on the passing of BREDAA’s founder, Brother Ismail Omar Shabazz.

The Belize Rural Economic Development of Agriculture through Alliance (BREDAA) mourns the passing of its founder and mentor, Brother Ismail Omar Shabazz.

Brother Ismail Omar Shabazz was the founding member of BREDAA in 1985. While residing in Los Angeles, California after his immigration from Belize at the demise of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) in which he served honorably in Belize, Shabazz continued his activist work as a Belizean Muslim, and organized the Los Angeles Muslims of Belize (LAMBS), which was made up of Belizean Muslims, Brothers Nuri Akbar Estrada, Bilal Morris, Saeed Rasool and Sister Darlene Zaid.

LAMBS began doing Belizean outreach programs in the Belizean community and published the newspaper Belizean Focus in 1982. The group later organized themselves into the Belizean socio-political organization, BREDAA, which was an acronym that was the idea of Brother Shabazz, who felt that Belizeans in the diaspora needed to be educated on the importance of land in Belize that is fundamentally controlled by foreigners and absentee landlords. It was Ismail Shabazz who also emphasized very seriously that Belizeans both at home and abroad must be involved in agricultural development as a means of true independence and self-sufficiency. This message became the rallying cry of BREDAA.

At Brother Shabazz’s advice that BREDAA must build healthy alliances with other social, cultural and political organizations in Los Angeles and Belize, BREDAA reached out to the Caribbean community and incorporated Guyanese brothers, Orland Bishop and Michael Branche, as members of the organization. Thereafter, the core of the organization, which included Belizeans and Guyanese living in Los Angeles, was built and included Brother Shabazz as adviser and mentor, Nuri Akbar Estrada as Chairman, Bilal Morris as the group’s Public Relations Officer, Orland Bishop as the Secretary, and Michael Branche as the Treasurer. Other Belizeans like the late Edgar X Richardson of UBAD, Sister Becky Lambey and Sister Hadie Tucker, Abdullah Muhammad (Hubert Pipersburgh), and Rudolph Bent became some of the pioneering members in the formation of BREDAA. The late Bert Tucker, who had also identified with Brother Shabazz’s philosophy on the issue of land in Belize and agriculturally sustainable development, was also instrumental in the formation of BREDAA and became an adviser to the organization at its inception.

Under the guidance of Brother Shabazz, BREDAA rose to become the most progressive Belizean organization in the diaspora from 1985 to 1996, and built diaspora media programs like the Belize Caribbean Pulse, and worked with some of the most progressive organizations in Los Angeles that were working for civil rights, immigrant rights, unity of peoples, and the fight against racism. BREDAA also worked in alliance with civil society in Belize advocating for reform of the land laws in Belize that made natural born Belizeans second-class citizens in their own country, and with the youth of Belize in the propagation of agricultural development as an alternative to crime and violence.

Under the continued guidance of Brother Shabazz up to his illness and his death, BREDAA continued to work vigilantly with Belizean advocacy groups and civil society in the realization and attainment of this noble objective for true Belizean independence, and it will be a struggle that it will never abandon.

Brother Ismail Omar Shabazz is now remembered for having lived his life striving for truth and peace by way of the heart. He lived in surrender to the will of God and the primal intuition and meaning of love, life and light discovered through the spiritualization of his thoughts and actions. He lived what he loved and loved what he knew to be true.

Brother Shabazz lived in service of the divine and the divine in human nature. He taught us to discern the real from the unreal, truth from falsehood and weakness from strength. Brother Shabazz reminded us to trust in the essential goodness of the world without being naïve to the misuse of power and knowledge.

Brother Shabazz lived within a community of profound belonging. He inspired many to see beyond the limiting boundaries of self-knowledge and cultural prejudices. Through his patience, he nurtured others to open their hearts and minds to ever deeper understanding and trust and to work for the greatest good for all. His is a legacy of family, community and nation building.

Dear Brother Ismail Omar Shabazz, we remember you remembering us. We honor your thoughts, feelings and actions that allowed for the higher expressions of our own lives. We see the light that you are beyond the darkness of our own limitations of hearts and minds. We invoke your virtuous character to guide our paths of destiny and to inspire our efforts to share in the profound depths of our human potential. May all that has resulted from your life please the Creator and help bring our world to a place of peace.

As-salaam-alaikum.

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