In the kind of businesses we run on Partridge Street, we are always trying to improve our technology. In order to improve one’s technology, and thereby fight to keep up with one’s competitors in the newspaper printing and broadcast fields, one has to acquire investment capital to purchase that technology from the United States.
The Germans make the finest printing presses in the world, but we have never been so fortunate as to own one of their Heidelbergs. I don’t know anything about radio and television technology, actually. Our brain there is J. C. Arzu, who has been with us from the founding of KREM Radio in 1989. The long and short of it is that we make all our technology purchases from the United States.
In the matter of investment capital, one can go to the bank or the credit union and make a loan. Historically, though, we have been careful about such financial commitments, because we have always been outsiders where the mainstream business community is concerned, and we have usually been critics/opponents where the political bosses are concerned. In other words, when we run into problems we don’t have a lot of places to run for rescue, and you know, of course, that when people have to bail you out they often seek a pound of flesh. The truth of it is that, from the very beginning of this newspaper in 1969, in all emergency cases we turn to you, the Belizean people, and we say look, this is our situation. The thing is, our people do not control a lot of financial resources. But, the Belizean people have done their best to support us, and that is why we have survived. (Also, big up the Holy Redeemer Credit Union and the St. John’s Credit Union. Our business managers have to tell those stories.)
With not being able or willing to take a lot of loan chances, we have to concentrate on frugality. In Kremandala’s race to compete technologically, we are burdened by our philosophical posture. Along with the frugality, we have to seek profits to enhance our investment capital. But our managers are burdened by our philosophical posture in the sense that the Kremandala business managers always have to be making decisions which sacrifice profits for philosophy. Any sensible business manager would support U.S. Capital Energy over the Toledo Maya, the Government of Belize over the Belize Grassroots Youth Empowerment Association (BGYEA), or BSI/ASR over the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA). But, Kremandala has done the opposite. This causes us to lose advertizing revenues, and fall further behind in the technology race with our competitors.
Well, the truth of the matter is that Kremandala stands for something in this society, and that “something” is the Belizean people. In the beginning, we burst on the public scene in 1969 with a black nationalist thinking, but in 1977 we made it expressly clear that our guiding philosophy was that of Belizean nationalism. We have a special concern with black people, but, as our support for the Toledo Maya and the Corozal/Orange Walk cane farmers has established over the years, we defend Belizeans – first, second, and third.
There is an educational history in this country which we sought to adjust, and we began that fight from creation in 1969. At the time, we had already acquired a consciousness of our African history and culture, but we were still basically ignorant about our Maya. We knew more about the Sioux, the Apache, and the Cheyenne in North America than we knew about our own Maya, who had been immediately north of Belize and comprised the bulk of our Northern District populations after they began to take refuge here following the outbreak of the Caste War in Yucatán in 1847.
In our pursuance of that adjustment in Belize’s educational curricula for the inclusion of African and Maya history, we ran afoul of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest religion in the territory of Belize. We know that this was an opponent no one had ever defeated in two thousand years, but we believed that the introduction of African and Maya history into Belize’s schools was a matter of national urgency.
As the 2014/2015 school year draws to an end, St. John’s College, arguably the most prestigious secondary school in Belize, and a flagship of the Roman Catholic Church, is completing its second year of a landmark African and Maya history program. All the reports on that program that I’ve had, mostly from Yasser Musa, have been very positive. This program is doing extremely well.
It is absolutely amazing to me that the Anglicans and the Methodists have made no effort to follow Landivar’s lead. The behavior of the Anglicans and the Methodists emphasizes for me how magnificent has been this SJC African and Maya history initiative.
On Partidge Street, we have paid a big price for bucking the Church on this matter. Nevertheless, if we had to do it over again, we would have to do it over again. There were Catholic priests who never saw us as enemies of their religion. One was the Belizean Jesuit, the late Fr. Charles Hunter, and another was the man Tennant Wright, S. J. Another Jesuit, John Stochl, S. J., has been a personal friend through the years, and so I want to repeat my best wishes to him on his retirement. I believe that if no one else stayed true to his vows, John Stochl did. I give him my respect.