Critics say that nothing came out of the September 2003 Belize Black Summit held in Belize City. When I sent out feelers a couple years ago to see if we could organize another such summit, that was the criticism I heard. This was, of course, discouraging, because our small group had worked so hard for so many months to put together the 2003 effort. This was a production of the UBAD Educational Foundation (UEF) and the World Garifuna Organization (WGO).
The National Garifuna Council (NGC) boycotted the summit. I have to tell it like it is. The NGC did not give any public explanation for their boycott, but one imagines it was because of issues with Dr. Ted Aranda, the WGO leader. On the other hand, who knows, perhaps it was I who was the problem.
I always felt that such a summit, once we could actually stage one, would become an annual event, because the situation in the black community, especially Belize City, had become so violent.
I had first sought to organize such a black summit in late 1993, one reason because it would have coincided with the 25th anniversary of UBAD on February 9, 1994. Because the UDP were in power at the time, and there has always been this feeling at high levels in the UDP that they can look out for the interests of black people without interference from such as Partridge Street, twenty years ago I was sure they would put obstacles in the path of such a venture.
When the unprecedented Belize Black Summit was held in 2003, it was with the PUP in power. Both the ruling PUP and the Opposition UDP gave support to the summit, and we were all grateful in the UEF and WGO. It was too much to expect that one summit would materially affect, for the better, conditions which had been the product of three hundred years of slavery, colonialism, and racism. The black summit, I repeat, should have been an annual affair.
Today, I don’t think yours truly should be in any kind of leadership role where organization of such a summit is concerned. I am controversial, and I have been thus for 44 years. When you stand up to Rome and Canterbury, that is what you become – controversial. You are branded “radical.” Meanwhile, the terrible conditions in the black communities just grow worse and worse.
Kremandala stands ready to support any effort to increase discussion and cooperation amongst black Belizeans. Bottom line, however, is that when neither the PUP or the UDP really care, and when a project may end up critical of Rome and Canterbury, then such a project is dead in the water. Exhibit A – black summit.
Many years ago, we young blacks had the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) going. UBAD experienced a shipwreck in early 1973 when half the leadership were deceived by the foetal UDP, and believed salvation had come for black people. Because of their inexperience, they did not see Rome and Canterbury lurking inside the coalition which became the UDP in September of 1973. That was sad.
Four years later, I declared that this newspaper would give up black nationalism and embrace Belize nationalism. I do not regret that decision. I had decided that how I would contribute to my society was by creating jobs, and we have done so at Kremandala. We have, relatively speaking, succeeded at Kremandala: the black community, however, has collapsed. Who is to blame?
If you can’t see where some kind of annual black summit is the absolute minimum where necessary community soul-searching is concerned, then the chances are you are waiting for Jesus to return. I’m serious. It’s stone crazy what’s going on in the Southside streets. It’s plain to be seen that this is past party politics. On the spiritual side, there is more religion in Belize now than at any point in my lifetime. Everyday there are services on radio and television: in the background, shat di lick. The youth have lost the faith. The crisis is total. We should have seen this coming, and some of us did.
I’ve done my part. Other people, younger people, need to step up. I’m angry. Let me tell you something. The gun war that broke out behind the Complex building broke out right after this year’s general elections. You know what this says to me? It says to me that Cordel Hyde, Duck Garnett, Cardinal Usher, and the PUP Lake I Committee had been doing a hell of a job of holding things down back there.
I always wondered why Cordel didn’t go public and show how people inside the PUP itself had been financing the UDP candidate in his constituency. There’s people in the PUP who had become linked with people in the UDP, specifically on the depressed Southside, to push the Ashcroft agenda. This is my personal opinion, and I ain’t no politician. Cold like that, Jack.
Power to the people.