One of my friends accused me of suspending this column week before last, because I had not written a new column for either of the issues that week. There were two columns last week, however. One column discussed the Rios Montt conviction in Guatemala City, and the other considered the Noh Mul violation outside of Orange Walk Town.
For some years now, with all my children grown, I have thought of becoming creative again in my writing. This would mean I would seek to communicate with you through mechanisms like stage plays and prose fiction, for example, which were much of what I was doing between 1969 and 1976. But, writing in this newspaper and some editing/proofreading are how I make my daily bread, and my wife and I have to eat. I am grateful for the job I have, which I mostly enjoy, so why should I be thinking of doing the same creative things which were not paying the bills back then?
Writers are happy when people want to read what they write, and this is the situation in which I find myself. So, mine is a happy situation. But, there are things you can’t say in a straightforward column. In this field, we writers believe that the highest form of writing is creative, not journalistic.
You may compare it to music. For those of us in the Western Hemisphere who listen to music keenly, jazz is the highest form of music creativity. I mean no disrespect to the classical composers, because there is music by people like Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, and so on, which is called classic because it will be eternal. On the everyday level, nonetheless, jazz aficionados feel that Bird, Miles, Coltrane and so on were sublime, at the very highest levels of creativity.
There are many serious jazz musicians who have had to play music, from time to time, at lower levels than their best, in order to eat and be respectable. Life is real, and bills are a part of reality. Artists sometimes compromise their art in order to say alive. Artists are often torn between principle and pragmatism.
Anyway, enough of the speculatin’ and signifyin’! I always felt that the stage play was my best writing genre, but here at Amandala is, as life would have it, where I paid my bills. I’m very grateful for that, but I’m bothered now and then by this creative bug. That’s all there is to it.
Let me move to another subject. On Wednesday last week, Cordel Hyde and I visited Belize’s most prestigious secondary institution of learning and sat with four of their executive and lecture officials. There has been a breakthrough where the matter of African and Indigenous (Mayan) history is concerned. These are totally professional people, and I was impressed with how far they have already travelled on the curriculum road.
The officials did not indicate to me that the conversation was off the record, but the breakthrough is so stunning that I was not sure how to handle it. I have informed a few close associates, and today I’ve decided to share the outline of the story with you.
For me, the personal importance of this is that it will become clear that I do not have a problem with any religious dogmas or beliefs as such. They say that there are no atheists in trenches, trenches being holes where men are dug in for shelter when the bombs and artillery shells of war are exploding around them and frightening the feces and urine out of their trembling bodies. Most human beings believe in a divinity, and divinities provide comfort in a world of fear which sometimes reaches the level of terror. Whatever set of beliefs comforts you, no man should criticize or disrespect.
In closing, I want to return to the Rios Montt conviction. It’s very, very big, and the importance for Belize is the heat it brings on the American politicians and generals in Washington. It was American officials who financed and supported Rios Montt in his genocidal atrocities: the American people did not know of what was going on in the Guatemalan countryside.
We Belizeans are pro-American, but the reason we have this Kremandala institution is so that we can ensure that the Belizean people know of the games they play in Washington. We have to possess this information so that we can use it to protect ourselves.
Whenever American officials want to brutalize and slaughter people, they call them communists. Well, they can’t call us that in Belize. You know that was what they were calling all the Indigenous Guatemalans they were torturing and murdering – communists.
What Washington has been calling us Belizeans is “claimed territory.” Oh, yeah? So, where did you get from Texas to California? And, who owned it first? Okay, you say, you own it now. So. Belize belongs to Belizeans.
Power to the people.