The previous Tuesday, Dr. William Parry, a Welshman and one of Burghley’s former spies, who had been suborned by papal agents in Venice and Rome and turned traitor, had been gruesomely hanged in Westminster Palace Yard. A self-indulgent social climber, Parry had converted to Catholicism and received communion at the Jesuit College in Paris to seal a vow to assassinate Elizabeth. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, watched him die from the vantage point of a wooden stand built specially for the occasion. Cut down from the gallows on the queen’s orders the moment the ladder was kicked away after just one swing of the rope, Parry had his heart and bowels ripped from his body with a meat cleaver by the executioner while he was still fully conscious.* As the blade plunged deep into his body, he gave what a stunned spectator described as “a great groan.” Finally, the hangman severed head and limbs from the corpse, to be impaled on London Bridge and above the gates of the city as a warning to others of the terrible price of treason.
*Ordinarily, felons and traitors were allowed to lapse into unconsciousness before disemboweling began.
– pgs. 42,43, ELIZABETH: THE FORGOTTEN YEARS, by John Guy, Viking, New York, 2016
Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, was Queen of England from 1558 to 1603. That’s roughly between four to four and a half centuries ago. It seems a very long time ago to the layman: to the historian, it is just yesterday. Christopher Columbus, an Italian in the employ of the King and Queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, “discovered” the so-called New World in 1492. The German priest, Martin Luther, began the Protestant Reformation, which sparked religious wars between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants in Europe, in 1517. The Spaniard, Hernan Cortes, conquered the Aztec kingdom and its capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521. Another Spaniard, Francisco Pizarro, conquered the Inca empire in Peru between 1532 and 1533. Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII (who beheaded her mother, Anne Boleyn, in 1536), was declared the head of the Anglican Church by the English Parliament in 1534. Ignatius Loyola, a Spaniard, and a few followers founded the Society of Jesus in 1539.
Elizabeth I may have been the most important monarch in English history because savage wars between Roman Catholics and Protestants were being waged all over Europe and inside the British Isles during her reign, and it was during her reign that the fight for European and world supremacy between -Protestant England and Catholic Spain reached its zenith. Philip II, the King of Spain, tried five times to invade England during Elizabeth’s reign, his most famous attempt being the so-called Spanish Armada in 1588.
Many of the bloody conflicts between the English and the Spanish took place in the New World, with the French and the Dutch as other major European players. The rituals and ceremonies of the Anglican Church are very similar to those of the Roman Catholic Church, but during the reign of Elizabeth, Anglicans (Protestants) and Catholics were murdering each other in the most brutal of fashions. These Christian Europeans were murdering each other in Europe and they were murdering each other in the New World. What do you think was happening to their chattel Africans and Mayans? You need to know.
As imperial conquerors, the Spanish were more dominant from Mexico down through Central and South America, whereas the English were the kingpins in the Caribbean and became the most powerful European force in the territories we now know as Canada and the United States of America.
Belize is an anomaly. It was basically the only British possession on the Central American mainland, whereas Guyana was their only possession in South America.
Where I wanted to reach with all this was the fact that when you look at the two largest population groups in Belize, which are African and Mayan, we can say that our African ancestors here were largely enslaved and colonialized by the Protestant British, while to the north and west of us the Maya were being crushed and exploited by the Catholic Spanish.
In the early months of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) and the People’s Action Committee (PAC) in 1969, we began making a call for African and Mayan history to be taught in the schools of Belize. But these schools were controlled by the same Anglican and Catholic religions which had represented England and Spain during the worst periods of conquest, slavery, and colonialism. Such a call for African and Mayan history to be taught, then, was arevolutionary call. As such, it was ignored for decades by the religious authorities who ran Belize’s schools.
In 1998, a man who had been one of the leaders of PAC in 1969, Said Musa, became Prime Minister of Belize. Mr. Musa appointed my second son, Cordel, as his first Minister of Education, and he tried to introduce the teaching of African and Mayan history in Belize’s schools. The initiative was resisted by the churches, but, perhaps more importantly, it was resisted by the teachers. After all, how do you teach something which you yourself have not been taught? Again, with respect to bread and butter issues, where do you go with African and Mayan history? African and Mayan history does not put food on the table.
Mr. Musa lost power in 2008, and I think the initiative had faded by the time the prestigious Jesuit high school, St. John’s College, introduced it into their curriculum in 2013. From what I understand, the program has been a major success. Belizean students like it a lot. When the new school year opens in September, SJC’s African and Mayan history program will begin its fourth year.
Remarkably, no Anglican or Methodist high school has so much as made an inquiry about possibly introducing such a program in their curriculum. Well, what do you expect from an educational system which has never taught the children of Belize about the Guatemalan claim to our land and sea? I’m just saying.
White supremacy in Belize is very well disguised. When you accuse our power structure of bigotry, it is your own native Belizeans who will come out swinging at you to defend the status quo. These are Africans and Mayans who collaborate with white supremacy. They eat well.
I understand how some of us would argue, for instance, why learn losers’ histories? The fact of the matter is that for centuries a lot of lies were told. Truth crushed to earth has risen again. A lot of lies were exposed in 1992, the quincentennial year of Columbus’ first voyage, when Indigenous peoples of the Americas and honest scholars of all races went on the offensive to expose the white supremacist propaganda of the history books.
If I had thought the African and Mayan history journey would have been this hard and taken so long, I guess I would have qualified myself in the field. For whatever the reason(s), when I personally began to find out the truth about our ancestors’ history I didn’t need a lot of convincing, and I thought other Belizeans would feel the same way once they got a taste of the truth. It didn’t work out that way.
One of the most fascinating areas where white supremacy has fought tooth and nail to preserve a lie is with respect to the peoples and civilizations of Egypt. Egyptian civilizations were black African, and they were the leading civilizations in the world before the birth of Christ. In fact, Egypt was where His parents fled with Him to save Him from King Herod.
The importance of exposing the lies the Europeans have taught our children in their schools for centuries, is that we cannot free ourselves until we learn to think for ourselves. The rulers’ schools taught us as “Gospel truth” that we had been historically unable to think for ourselves, that we had discovered and created nothing, that it was they who brought enlightenment to us. No, no, no, beloved, what they brought was fire and brimstone, and then they took out their Bible ….
Power to the people!