The leadership of Kremandala held a series of inspiring meetings with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his inner circle between Thursday and Saturday mornings last week. In 1975, I had briefly met the Minister on his first visit to Belize. I did not meet him on his second visit here in 1986. So, this was the very first time we had sat down to talk privately.
Minister Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam is a religious organization, while Kremandala is a secular one. The Minister’s NOI is also a business organization, and a powerful one, while Kremandala grew out of a black activist organization which was significantly influenced by Islamic leaders between 1969 and 1972. A commonality between the NOI and Kremandala derives from a serious concern about people of African descent in this part of the world.
Several months ago I referred in this column to black Americans as the financial and technological elite of the black world. During one of his speeches last week, Minister Farrakhan said that if one were to measure the gross domestic product of black America by the standards of a nation-state, black America would be the seventh or ninth largest nation in the world. As it is, of course, black America is an integral part of the United States of America, so the separate GDP measurement would only be a teaching tool.
I did not hear all of the Minister’s speeches last week, but he never dove deep down into the matter of the Guatemalan claim to Belize. I have been told that the Minister did suggest, at the end of his Bird’s Isle presentation, that Belize meet Guatemala halfway, so to speak, where the matter of our southern sea is concerned. The Minister and I did not hold any in-depth discussions about the claim.
As I said in the paragraph before the last, black America is an integral part of the United States of America. The late Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the man who founded the Nation of Islam in the United States, had always asked for a part of the United States to establish a separate black state. Even though Hon. Elijah’s student, Minister Louis Farrakhan, has a huge following across the length and breadth of black America, I think the vast majority of black Americans are satisfied with their status as citizens of the present United States of America.
So that, where American foreign policy is concerned, black Americans generally go along with the programs presented by their commander-in-chief, which is the president of the United States. Black Americans have fought and shed their blood in all American wars since World War II, and essentially they are loyal American citizens.
As it stands, we conscious Belizeans know that a part of our Belizean problem where the Guatemalan claim is concerned, is the fact that Guatemala is the United States’ most important ally in Central America, and Guatemala has an influential lobby in the United States’ Congress and Senate. To neutralize that Guatemala lobby in Washington, Belize needs, as a foot in the door, to lobby black America and inform black America of our situation. Remember now, this is more easily said than done, because black Americans are not really interested in what they would call the “West Indies” or the “Caribbean.”
I would go further than that. Even though some spectacular twentieth-century black leaders in America have come from West Indian ancestry, including Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Toure), and Minister Farrakhan himself, the average black American is not a lover of the West Indies. The black American has considered West Indians to represent, in the first instance, job competition in the U.S., and white America has played West Indians off against black Americans. This is a fact.
Mr. Arthur Belisle has told me that in the 1940s Belizeans went to work in the southern United States as part of the war effort in World War II. Belizeans were working in the timber industry in states like Georgia. The black Americans would run away from Belizeans when they saw them. Eventually, the Belizeans, Mr. Belisle told me, found out that their white bosses had told the black Americans in the area that the black Belizeans had tails.
Anyway, when Belizeans began leaving British Honduras for the U.S. en masse after Hurricane Hattie in 1961, most of us did not really know that The Jewel was a land of “wealth untold.” We thought Belize was just canals and swamps and mosquitoes. Today, the truth is out: Belizeans are sitting on a gold mine. From where the Guatemalans are looking across the border with Belize, it is as if they are sitting in a desert in the west and looking to an oasis in the east. The oasis is Belize – sugar and spice, and everything nice!
So then, if we’re going to hold on to this nice thing, we Belizeans have to fight every which way we can. Belize finally gained independence in 1981 by internationalizing our right to independence and territorial integrity. In 2013, we will save our country by targeting Washington, the house of power in the United States. We want to make black America know, in the first instance, that there is a Belize. After that, Belizeans have to become organized in every major city in the United States. We’re not asking to become a burden for America: what we want to do is pressure America to treat us fairly where this Guatemala business is concerned.
Minister Farrakhan is a friend of Belize’s. Minister Farrakhan is a powerful man in America. Minister Farrakhan is a good friend to have.
Power to the people.