Looking back, I can recollect that it was Mr. Wilhelm Arnold who pushed for us to become an organization in early February of 1969. In fact, he took us to his farm at Mile 26 on the Old Northern Road, and there a cultural organization called the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) was formed.
Mr. Arnold was one of Belize’s most successful black capitalists, and it is for sure that he had a specific direction in which he wanted the new organization to go. But the organization soon began to be influenced by the young socialist attorneys, Assad Shoman and Said Musa, especially after Lionel Clarke left permanently for New York City and yours truly became the president. This was not at all to Mr. Arnold’s liking, so he departed the scene.
By early 1973, UBAD was four years old and had become a political party, in August of 1970. UBAD had been tested and proven worthy in three separate Supreme Court trials involving its leadership, several Magistrate Court’s trials, and various demonstrations and public encounters with the forces of the ruling People’s United Party (PUP). In addition, the UBAD Party had contested the December 1971 Belize City Council election as a coalition partner of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, Philip Goldson’s National Independence Party (NIP). In early 1973, UBAD was still young, but UBAD was already experienced and established.
The importance of the brief history in those first three paragraphs is the fact that at the time the United Democratic Party (UDP) was formed in 1973, what was happening twenty years later in the streets of Belize City would have been unthinkable. What was happening in 1993, when some former UBAD leaders met for a public reunion at Bishop Sylvester Hall, a reunion which was videotaped by Nuri Akbar and Bilal Morris of Los Angeles (BREDAA), was that bloody carnage had begun to take place in the old capital involving black youth killing and maiming black youth.
In early 1973, the vast majority of black youth in Belize City were supporters of the UBAD Party. It is true to say that there was no crack cocaine and there were no Crips and Bloods in Belize in 1973, but it is also true to repeat that the UBAD Party was experienced, established, and a respected authority amongst Belize City youth, whether they came from PUP or from NIP families.
One puzzle of Belize’s political history, then, is how it came about that when the UDP was formed in September of 1973, the UBAD Party was not sitting at the table, and instead the Liberal Party, a party without membership, history, or roots credentials, did so sit. In fact, the Liberal Party ended up taking over the UDP in 1983 and controlling it for the next 15 years. And during those 15 years of Liberal Party domination, in 1991 the elder statesman of the former Opposition, Hon. Philip Goldson, broke away from the UDP to form the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR). In 1993, Mr. Goldson agreed to a general election coalition with Sir Manuel Esquivel’s UDP, but after the UDP/NABR’s 1993-1998 term of office and violation of the 1993 terms of coalition, Mr. Goldson again separated himself from the UDP and maintained NABR until his death in 2001.
Two significant things occurred with the birth of the UDP in 1973. Mr. Goldson, although he was still the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (the only NIPDM candidate elected in the 1969 general election), essentially lost leadership of the Opposition, and the UBAD Party divided and collapsed. What did these events mean? Why did they occur? Hindsight, I submit, should be increasing some people’s clarity of vision.
Why did the UBAD Party, the party of the youth, divide? The UBAD Party divided because of the specific issue of the Unity Congress, which was the earlier version of the UDP. Half the leadership of the UBAD Party wanted to join the Unity Congress unconditionally, while the other half, led by myself, felt that we had to be provided with some guarantees.
From my half, only Bill Lindo, who joined the PUP during the quarrel inside UBAD in 1973 and has remained therein, and myself are still alive. From the other half, four former UBAD officers are still alive, and reconciliation took place a long time ago between myself and two of these. There are two others, however, who have not admitted that they made a mistake. I can only conclude that they are happy with the way things turned out, that is, they are happy with the UDP and the UDP’s four terms of office. To each, his own. You know the deal.
At the UBAD reunion of February 1993, which marked the 24th year of our foundation, the former officers who spoke included myself, Wilfred Nicholas, Sr., (deceased), Galento X Neal, Rufus X, Ismail Shabazz, Lillette Barkley-Waite, Charles X Eagan (deceased), Edgar X Richardson (deceased), and Charles X Stamp. Nuri Akbar, visiting from Los Angeles, was a guest speaker.
Belize City’s gang wars had reached a sensational peak in the previous year, and there was some talk at that 1993 reunion of a possible re-organization of UBAD in order to address the crisis of violence. As a footnote, it should be pointed out that the Kremandala organization was absolutely immersed in the semi-pro basketball initiative in February of 1993. That UBAD re-organization did not take place. Three years later, the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF) was established, but the UEF was not structured in such a way as to enter the mean streets in an aggressive manner.
I consider it important to record these histories as regularly and as faithfully as I can, because there are always powerful interests which have benefits to gain from the distortion of history. If you call names, I will whistle. Previous to the division and collapse of UBAD, the most dramatic event in Belize’s post-World War II political history had been the September 1956 power struggle in the PUP which saw Hon. George Price replacing Hon. Leigh Richardson as PUP Leader. In our weekend edition of the newspaper, we will reproduce two versions of what took place in 1956, with William Lloyd Coffin as the centerpiece.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.