Amandala regrets to announce the passing of Muslim leader, renowned activist, and one of the earliest writers and publishers of the Amandala newspaper, Ismail Omar Shabazz, 76, which occurred at his home in Belize City this morning around 10:00 a.m..
Shabazz (formerly George Tucker) – who is described as a devoted Belizean nationalist and man of faith – is accredited as one of the country’s best historians and revolutionary philosophers who avidly campaigned for various causes for over the past 50 years as an advocate for both meaningful change in the society, and for the overall liberation of black people in Belize.
The passing of the iconic figure constitutes a significant loss for the country, and an even greater loss to his family, with whom he had been staying in Belize City since returning from the United States, where he had been seeking medical treatment up until January of this year.
Today, Amandala spoke with his daughter, Anna Shabazz, who recounted her father’s last moments, explaining that the patriarch had been getting ready to take a trip to the local hospital for medical attention, since he had been battling a number of ailments prior to his death; however, he never got the chance to make it out the door.
She said, “He asked for a cup of coffee and said that he was going to the hospital because he was not feeling well, but by the time I made the cup of coffee and went back to see him, he had already passed. I knocked on his room door, but he didn’t answer, so I opened it and went in. When I went in the room, he was lying motionless on his bed.”
Shabazz was a diabetic, which led to persistent swelling in both his feet, and according to his daughter, he also had prostate problems and often complained of back pain as well.
Although the family is finding it hard to cope with the loss, Anna stated that they are trying to be strong and take it in stride.
Evidently distraught, with tears streaming down her face, she said, “We love him, and even though he is gone, I will still love him to my heart. He was a very nice father to me – I can’t complain and I will never forget him.”
As Anna related, much of Shabazz’s life was centered on serving his country, with a keen allegiance to raising awareness of Black consciousness among Belizeans.
She also expressed gratitude to everyone who assisted her father in his time of ailing, including his relatives, and his longtime colleague, Evan X Hyde.
Hyde – who is the chairman of the Kremandala multimedia conglomerate and publisher of the Amandala newspaper – and Shabazz remained close friends from their earlier years of activism, right up until the time of Shabazz’s death; therefore, we also spoke with Hyde, who provided us with some insight into Shabazz’s contribution to Belizean history and referred to the “great warrior” as the “glue” that held the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) Foundation together in its years of existence.
“There were a couple movements in the founding of UBAD in February 1969; they were Charles X Eagan and Ismail Omar Shabazz. Shabazz became the secretary/treasurer until November 1972, when the new Imam of the Nation of Islam, Nuri Mohammed, asked him to work full-time for the [Muslim] mission. He was the glue that held UBAD together from foundation in 1969 until 1972; and just a couple months after he left, UBAD started to quarrel”, Hyde reflected.
In July of 1970, Hyde and Shabazz were both accused of seditious conspiracy by the then ruling PUP administration for printing a newspaper article mocking election petitions filed following the 1970 municipal election in Belize City – a charge for which they were later acquitted after trial in the Supreme Court.
Today, Hyde told us that Shabazz was a true pioneer who believed that all grassroots Belizeans deserve to be landowners, and was thus selected, being an ideal orator, to make a presentation at the “Plant di Corn Rally” this past Saturday; however, his health condition was not up to par.
Notably, Shabazz – who was considered instrumental in the identification of Kremandala’s present Partridge Street address – was the founder of the Los Angeles-based organization called Belize Rural Economic Development of Agriculture through Alliance (BREDAA).
Also, in 1963, he, along with the late Ibrahim Abdullah, better known as “Justice”, became one of the founders of More Tomorrow Village in the Cayo District.
Shabazz was known for being fearlessly vocal in not only bringing specific national issues to the forefront, but also keeping those issues in perspective.
One such matter is the Belize-Guatemala dispute, and in an article dubbed “The Belize Guatemala Dispute: 8 Steps to the ICJ”, published this past February, Shabazz chronicled a series of important historical events that have led up to the present crisis in the Belize/Guatemala dispute, that history students can use as a road map to learn how the problem began and why it is where it is at this point in time.
In 1999, Shabazz, Evan X Hyde and 19 other outstanding Belizeans were awarded for their contributions to the promotion of African, Mayan and Mestizo cultural awareness in Belize.
And, in 2008, Shabazz – who said that he became interested in the Muslim religion after seeing a newspaper advertisement in 1962 – was one of the driving forces behind the inauguration of the first Muslim community mosque in Belize City.
Shabazz will also be remembered as one of the influential voices of the Muslim Show which airs on Mondays at 5:00 a.m. on KREM Radio, in which he participated prior to being debilitated by illness, and he continued to contribute his thoughts on the development of the Belizean society through various outlets.
Ismail Omar Shabazz – historian, nationalist and activist – dead at 76. May he rest in peace.