“ … that inner doubt shared by so many, whether the masses of people are competent to make decisions for a democratic society. It is the schizophrenia of a free society that we outwardly espouse faith in the people but inwardly have strong doubts whether the people can be trusted.”
– pg. 104, RULES FOR RADICALS, Saul Alinsky, Vintage Books, New York, 1971
“It is when people have a genuine opportunity to act and to change conditions that they begin to think their problems through – then they show their competence, raise the right questions, seek professional counsel and look for the answers. Then you begin to realize that believing in people is not just a romantic myth. But here you see that the first requirement for communication and education is for people to have a reason for knowing. It is the creation of the instrument or the circumstances of power that provides the reason and makes knowledge essential.”
– pg. 106, ibid.
I have said to you that I am not a child, I am not really interested in how people look or how they walk. What I am concerned with is how people think, and when it comes to our leaders and those who are leaders aspirant, I want to know what is their development philosophy.
I have been holding conversations with Clinton Uh Luna for at least 7 or 8 years, perhaps as many as 10. I can’t say for sure offhand. I also cannot say when it was that I realized that he had been many places, so to speak, and that he knew of many things. What I know is that there was a point, fairly early on, that I felt that he was playing with me, as a kitten plays with a ball of yarn. So then, at that point, I decided to do a lot of listening, and learning.
If I had money, I would seek to bring Uh Luna to Belize City so that he could be on KREM Radio and KREM TV on a daily basis. In Corozal Town, Uh Luna lives on its outskirts at a place called Finca Solana. He has no electricity there, and overall his living conditions are ascetic. I’ve never asked him why he chooses to live like this, because he seems to be quite happy, and you have to respect another man’s privacy and choices. What I am sure of is that there is a lot that he can teach us in the city and in the nation.
As I understand it, after Hurricane Janet demolished Corozal Town in 1955, Uh Luna ended up in Acapulco with an uncle when he was just a young boy. He would spend almost forty years in Acapulco, Cancun, and other parts of Mexico. Apart from becoming an executive in the tourism industry, which is very sophisticated in Mexico, he acquired expertise in organizing workers and workers’ unions.
When my generation was growing up in Belize in the 1950s and 1960s, most of us only ventured as far as Chetumal. Chetumal was not the rich, modern city it is now, only a modest-sized town back then. I remember that in British Honduras, because we only knew Chetumal, we had a vague attitude of superiority where Mexico was concerned. We were conscious and disdainful of the petty, harassing corruption of Mexican public officers and the mordida system. In those decades of our youth, the public service in Belize, under British colonial rule, was almost impeccable in its honesty. Today, that is no longer the case, and there are areas where we have become more Mexican than the Mexicans. In 2013, we know in Belize that Mexico is big time in this region, in the world in fact, and that Mexican nationalism makes Belize’s appear weak and puerile.
Back in the 1950s and 1960s, some older Belizeans had been as far as Mérida, usually for medical treatment, but it is the case with Mexico that the higher up you go, the more north then, the more you will meet the real Mexico, the world-class Mexico. And so it was that Belize’s boxers were among the first to know the real Mexico, for Belizean pugilists like Ludwig and Percy Lightburn, Norman Lewis, and others went as far as Mexico City to fight in the early 1950s. Most other Belizeans who went that high, and higher, were heading to Tijuana and other border points, so they only came back if they were deported back, in which case they didn’t do a lot of talking.
In Clinton Uh Luna’s case, he landed in Acapulco, which is high up on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and he learned a whole heap of things. Thus it is that I have become his student, because there is only so much you can learn in Belize. I ask him serious questions from time to time, and I feel that overall his answers have proven to be solid.
Many years ago when I was a young man, I listened to the young attorney Assad Shoman provide his answers to the serious socio-economic questions which faced Belize. Looking back, I would say that Shoman’s young attorney friend, Said Musa, was totally supportive of Assad, but it was clear that it was Shoman who was the ideologist. Said did not speak as much or in as categorical a manner as Assad did.
When I met these young men, I was 21 years of age, and I basically understood the world in terms of a white supremacy model. Where ownership of the means of production and other socialist and communist teachings were concerned, I considered socialism and communism to be complications of the fundamental issue – white supremacy. About a year and a half before I met the young Belizean attorneys, I had become a disciple of Malcolm X after reading his autobiography, which was published after Malcolm’s death in February of 1965. In retrospect, though, I would say that when you became a disciple of Malcolm X, you were becoming a disciple of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, because it was he who had taught Malcolm and saved him from a life of crime. Looking back, we can see now that after he broke with Hon. Elijah in early 1964, Malcolm was still searching for a body of beliefs when he was killed. In his 1964/1965 search, the one thing Malcolm found was orthodox Islam, which was where many of Hon. Elijah’s followers have ended up today. But, this is a whole issue by itself.
From the time of the 1920s in Harlem, as is discussed in Harold Cruse’s 1967 book – The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, revolutionary black thinkers have been approached by socialist and communist whites who were willing and eager to become their allies. Things get complicated, and dangerous, when you move from race and national issues to ideological ones. The classic case is that of Maurice Bishop in Grenada. I wish someone would tell Belizeans the true story of Maurice Bishop.
In our conversation on Monday, Uh Luna was very skeptical about the Barrow version of the national bank. The most important thing Clinton Uh Luna and I agreed upon is that the Opposition PUP is presently to the right of the ruling UDP. This is something that Mr. Francis Fonseca, I submit, will have to address. He cannot go on indefinitely in the realm of personality. Development philosophy is, to borrow from the words of the Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph, a “big boys’ game.”
Power to the people.