My column for today features a letter written to Amandala in response to, and commentary on, a publisher’s column the previous weekend. This was early February of 1989, and the publisher’s column in question had appeared in the February 3, 1989 issue of Amandala. (That column was reproduced in our mid-week edition this week, and appears elsewhere in this issue.)
The letter which follows was written by the late Raymond Barrow and first appeared in our February 10, 1989 issue.
Mr. Barrow was a paternal uncle of Belize’s Prime Minister. Mr. Raymond Barrow was a senior public officer who went to study law in England when he was already in his forties, I would say. He qualified as an attorney and was a senior member of the Holy Redeemer Credit Union (HRCU) board.
When he was a relatively young man, Raymond Barrow wrote one of the greatest poems ever composed by a Belizean. It is entitled “Dawn is a fisherman,” and it is so beautiful as to be spectacular. Check it out.
When Mr. Barrow responded to our column back then, it was an honor, and it is still an honor today as we reproduce it.
In line with these reproductions from February of 1989, we intend to begin looking closely at the July 1919 uprising of Ex-Servicemen in Belize Town as we approach its centenary next year.
Mr. Raymond Barrow‘s February 1989 letter follows. Enjoy.
RAY BARROW WRITES
Feb. 6, 1989
The Editor AMANDALA
I found your column on Samuel Haynes in the last issue of AMANDALA most interesting and informative. Haynes definitely deserves a place in our country’s Hall of Fame as one of our national heroes.
When Dr. Peter Ashdown came to Belize last year he told me he was doing some research on Marcus Garvey, and on R.S. Turton, and the Prohibition era; so I took him to see Walter Wright of Iguana Street, who is a radio technician, an accomplished musician, and had worked as a wireless operator on many of the old bootlegging vessels. “Sir Walter,” who is now in his 90s, had also served as a soldier in the Overseas Contingent of the First World War, and knew Samuel Haynes very well. Mr. Wright told us, among other things, that he was first introduced to the classic “Les Miserables” and other writings of the French novelist Victor Hugo by Samuel Haynes in the army barracks of Mesopotamia. He gave Professor Ashdown much detailed and valuable information about the 1919 Riots.
Next we went by appointment to Lindo’s Alley to the home of your grandfather, Captain James Bartlett Hyde, also in his 90’s and very hale and hearty at that. (You can see him any day taking his early morning stroll along East Collet Canal accompanied by his son-in-law, Mr. Harrison Grant.) Captain Jim was a veritable storehouse of information on the late R.S. Turton, Belize’s multimillionaire and philanthropist, and one of the country’s biggest property and real estate owners, with whom Captain Jim worked for many years as a ship’s captain and engineer, and friend and confidante. He knew the names of almost all of the vessels that ran bootleg to the USA, and is one of the most interesting and knowledgeable persons to talk to. His memory is, like Mr. Wright’s, fantastic.
As your article pointed out, local history books say very little about the riots of 1919, and so we must be ever grateful to people like Dr. Ashdown, who first came to Belize as a CIIR Volunteer in the early days of the British Council’s operations here, taught in the Stann Creek High School for a few years, and has continued in his love of Belize by doing intensive research from time to time into little-known areas of our history.
Thanks again to Professor Ashdown, and thank you too, Mr. Editor.
Raymond H. Barrow