Publisher — 28 September 2012 — by Evan X

I have a younger brother, Michael, who was killed in Accra, Ghana, in September of 1976. He had completed the first year of a two-year course in land management in Kumasi, which is about two hundred miles from Accra. Indications are that he was bored, having nothing to do in Kumasi during the summer holidays, so he was in the capital city with friends when he was murdered.

My younger brother was an adventurous guy. He was an outstanding football player and track-and-field athlete, the most successful athlete amongst my parents’ children. He was an active member of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) while employed at the Lands and Survey Department. Arrested and charged because of UBAD activities on the night of May 29, 1972, he was interdicted from his government job. Along with Norman Fairweather and Edwardo Burns, he was defended in the Supreme Court by attorney Dean Lindo, and all three were acquitted in October of 1972, whereupon he resumed employment at Lands.

UBAD had become divided in early 1973, and was formally dissolved in November of 1974. Michael’s Kumasi scholarship offer had been on the table for some time. Several Belizeans had already done the course, and I encouraged him to take up the offer, which he finally did in September of 1975.

I was in Mérida along with the Arturo Matus family, buying football boots for the Charger team, when I received news of my brother’s death. I believe my parents had been informed on September 10 itself, while they were in Belize City for the celebrations. My parents were living in Belmopan at the time, my father being a public officer in charge of the national post office system. My brother had been killed on September 5.

Belize was a self-governing British colony in 1976; the British remained in charge of our foreign affairs. Belizeans were still “British subjects.” The British took 24 days to deliver my brother’s body to us at the Belize airport.

What this process did was impress upon me how powerless and unimportant my family was in the larger scheme of things. Whatever status we had achieved in Belize, we had achieved within a colonial framework. The UBAD phenomenon, led by myself with my younger brother as a prominent participant, would have alienated many of the influential Belizeans who would have sympathized with my parents and other respectable family members.

On the night when Belize experienced its first change of government, from PUP to UDP, in December of 1984, I remembered my younger brother. Overall, the change of government was a euphoric time in Belize, because it had appeared for more than two decades that only one political party could govern Belize. We Belizeans felt that we had proved something when we changed governments in 1984.

Last week a University of Belize student-teacher visited me with an emergency. His professor wanted him to review any poem I had written before 1981, and one I had written after 1981. I told him he had a problem, because I had basically stopped writing poems after 1977. Then, I remembered that I had written a poem for my brother on the occasion of the first change of government my generation had ever seen. Here is the poem:

I sure wish you was here
with me this morning, kid,
watching golden traces of
cool sunrise
give birth to raise up 84.
But it wasn’t to be, kid.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Wartime we was dropping
like flies,
no time for graves:
Scratch another match,
burn them suckers,
but now the war be over
for a while.
Between the ripples of the
incoming tide,
your spirit be floating,
and I sure wish you was
here with me this morning, kid.
New heroes flew here,
many unsung, dear God,
the way you were.
Some sung, I was,
and fools don’t know.
I sure wish you was here
with me this morning, kid.

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