BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Feb. 2, 2017 – - “No wait ‘til di man dead fi tell ahn ‘e good.” This is a well-known Creole adage that underscores that if a man is to be honored, it is best to do so while he is still alive! According to renowned Garifuna painter and musician Pen Cayetano, that is why he has chosen to put off a special tribute this Sunday to honor Amandala’s publisher, Evan X Hyde, and the movement which he helped to lead in the 60s – the United Black Association for Development (UBAD).
The Garifuna painter and musician will be honoring Evan X Hyde at his gallery this Sunday
The tribute is planned for 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 5, at Pen Cayetano’s Studio Gallery in Dangriga.
“I am deeply honored by Pen’s invitation. Very much honored,” Hyde told Amandala today.
“All is set to go. I think we will have a big crowd,” Cayetano said in anticipation of the upcoming event, the very first he is organizing to mark Black History Month, observed every February.
Pen told us that Hyde left an impression on him during his teenaged years. UBAD had been holding meetings in Dangriga, and Pen, observing from the sidelines, was enthralled by the powerful messages which he has carried with him throughout his life. Cayetano said that Hyde is the first person he heard with positive messages about Blacks. At around the age of 12, he heard Hyde’s messages of “power to the people.” At a time when there was still name calling within divided Black communities (the Creoles and the Garinagu), Pen recalled the message from Hyde, that they are “soul brothers, soul sisters.”
“That made me feel good! It was not a thing for Black people to call themselves beautiful,” said Cayetano, reflecting on how the movement helped to build self-love and consciousness.
“When he came around with the UBAD movement and joined the country together, it showed the country that we are one people with one roots,” he added.
Blacks in Belize had spent decades being hostile to each other. He himself recalled coming to Belize City in the 1950s, and feeling overcome with rage when a Creole man insulted his mother. So the Black Power movement was a welcome revolution.
“UBAD was calling people together as one, fighting against racism and name calling. That is the point of this tribute to my brother. People were calling themselves ‘Black and beautiful,’ and it was a big change in my life. I am 63 years old now. It is time to do it before I die or Evan dies, to give him that respect,” Cayetano said.
Hyde too remembers Pen in his earlier days and he was impressed first of all with the respect Pen got from the footballers of the day—and particular the stars of Wagiya.
“We used to go to ‘Griga a lot in ‘69 and ‘70 but not so much after that. UBAD was divided and broke up, but what happened was that I went to ‘Griga some years after that and there was an inspired, almost spiritual movement surrounding Pen, which included a football team,” Hyde recalled.
Pen’s brother, Gitso Cayetano, was a second generation player of that team, but before him came ‘ballers like Benedict Lopez, Nolbert Moss and Anthony Moss. That was in the ‘80s.
“The person who explained a lot of what was happening in ‘Griga was George Swaso, a.k.a. ‘Boxer’; he explained to me and they were referring to Pen at the time as ‘Master.’ I can’t recall when I first met Pen. I knew of him then in the ‘80s and how sensational were the vibes around everything. He had already introduced the Turtle Shell Band, but I did not know of the painting side,’ Hyde recounted.
Pen, who is also known as the founder of Punta Rock, filled in the gaps. He said that one day, when Wagiya (which he said is a Garifuna word meaning “all of us together’) came up to play at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, he and his crew did not have money to pay the entrance fee, so they started “punta-rocking”! And while they were “jamming outside,” Evan X Hyde came and insisted that the band should be allowed inside to entertain the football fans. That, Pen recalled, was how they were able to see the game; but more than that, it sparked a new trend of introducing Punta Rock as entertainment at football games. Pen said that he had been a big supporter of the team.
Hyde’s impact on him has kept him in close alliance with the movement, to which he has also given back using his talents. Sister Nzinga Barkley-Waite, who has been involved with the movement for decades and was leading the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF), remembers the commissioning of a wall mural at the Library of African and Indian Studies on the Kremandala compound. The mural—which also depicted the UBAD movement—took Pen months to create. That was back in 2003, and Nzinga was the one who pushed the project forward.
Hyde’s work towards the development of the people was also the message in the mural, Pen explained.
“It is important to honor him for his work… He has also been writing of history and the daily events of our country and many other things and we have to nourish somebody like that, honor to him,” he added.
At Sunday’s event, there will be “ital” Garifuna food, poetry, music, art as well as presentations from Evan X Hyde and two guest speakers: Cynthia Ellis-Topsey, who will address issues facing youth and women in development; and Dr. Theodore Arana, who will reflect on development and the movement. Cayetano told us that Aranda is also expected to present a new project that he has been planning for the betterment of Afro-Belizeans.
For the entire Black History Month, the Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery is featuring the artwork of the Cayetano family: Pen, his wife Ingrid and their daughter, Mali. They will also be hosting art and music workshops for schools.