Because of different incidents of violence which made the headline news in the first week and a half of the New Year, there was occasioned a mood of ethnic tension in Belize City worse than I have ever seen. Thankfully, that tension eased after a few days, and today, Sunday, January 20, 2013, things are pretty much back to normal.
Over there in Asia, there is a history which is an interesting study for those nation-states with diverse populations. India and Pakistan, which are both nuclear powers today and are frequently on the verge of going to war with each other, were once one country, known as India. Up until the time of World War II, India was a British “possession.” But, Mahatma Gandhi’s anti-colonial leadership surged in power in the years immediately after World War II. So, the British prepared to grant independence. There was a problem in India, however, and the problem was religion. Because of religion, India became independent in 1947 as two nations instead of one – Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. And there was a bloodbath which took place. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and Muslims were killed in fighting along the borderline. And in too many other communities, Hindus in India massacred minority Muslim families, while in Pakistan, Muslim majorities slaughtered minority Hindu families.
February 9 marks 44 years since the founding of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD). Looking back, we can see now that UBAD was like a last hurrah for the majority black population of what had been British Honduras. By the early 1980s, Belize’s black population had become a minority, and, what is worse, a marginalized one, one which began to deteriorate, and then proceeded to disintegrate.
The original executive of UBAD in 1969 was a diverse one, philosophically speaking, and I would say that of that 10 member group, at least two, perhaps three, appeared to be anti-Mestizo in their thinking. But, UBAD does not have a domestic reputation for racism. That is my personal opinion, and I may be wrong. Reasons for UBAD not being considered anti-Mestizo from a historical standpoint, include our relationship with Assad Shoman and Said Musa from early on; the presence of a Mestizo, the late Arturo Rosado, on UBAD executives from 1972 forward; and the influence of Muslims like Ismail Shabazz and Charles X Eagan (Ibrahim Abdullah) on the executive. The Nation of Islam included all non-Caucasians under a “black” designation, and did not consider Mestizos to be white.
It is very difficult to discuss such matters here in a strictly academic sense. The party politics is so intense in Belize. For a very long time, UDP people, for example, were resentful of any discussion of UBAD in this newspaper, and the main reason for this was that the UDP believed that, as successors to the NIP, they controlled the black vote. UBAD, the UDP considered to be a diversion and a distraction.
It so happened that it was the supposedly Latin PUP which reached out to my faction of UBAD in 1975 when the PUP felt threatened by the UDP after the general election and CitCo results of 1974 in October and December, respectively.
I thought that the changes in the population and in the politics of Belize were graphically illustrated when the former PUP Leader and Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Said Musa, was meeting the press last Wednesday morning after his home had been shot at the night before. In critical moments during the early PUP, Rt. Hon. George Price would have been flanked by Reginald “Reggie” Faber and Oliver “Sulky Sue” Flowers. These two men were black waterfront workers, big guys with unsmiling countenances, to put it mildly. At Mr. Musa’s side on Wednesday morning, the support was different in class and in complexion. Belize’s demographic has changed. Perhaps the PUP has, also.
For those who are the enemies of Belize, they can see an ethnic fault line which exists here because of the diversity of our population. This is a challenge for those who are sincere Belizean nationalists. Mr. Price tried to deal with this in the Mexican and Cuban way, by ignoring the ethnic differences. I disagreed with that then, and I still do now. I believe that education in African and Mayan history was the way to go. The problem with that was the control of our educational system by Rome and Canterbury, which is to say, Spain and Britain. These are the same two countries which enslaved and colonized our ancestors. They should not be controlling our education.
Power to the people. Power in the struggle.