Features — 06 June 2014 — by Audrey Matura-Shepherd

“If we plant corn, we will reap corn; if we plant deceit we will reap enemies; if we plant abuse of power we will reap resistance; if we plant oppression, we will reap a revolution.” June 3, 2014 (Audrey Matura-Shepherd)

I am the daughter of farmers. My father was a large sugar cane grower and to date my mother refuses to give up her cane field even after sugar prices plummeted. Planting is in our blood because when you plant you are bound to get a crop of what you planted. A mango seed does not bear coconut, nor does a plum seed bear apples. It is no coincidence that one of Jesus’ most famous parables is “The Parable of the Sower” (MATTHEW 13), because he planted many figurative seeds in the lives of many even to date.

So planting, in both the agricultural sense and figurative sense, is important because it denotes life, hope, productivity, positivity, abundance, and makes one feel they are making something good happen. I don’t have a farm to plant but the few vegetables and garden plants I do plant make me appreciate the value of what the soil can produce when humans act in harmony with it.

This is the concept that the leaders of Harmonyville have – it is a positive one and one that as a woman, mother, and Belizean, I welcome. I welcome it because I truly prefer to see our people, especially our men, and black men at that, promoting something positive. I am tired of seeing them in the news for killings and other crimes. I am tired of visiting the police lock-ups and the prisons and seeing that 90% of the prison population are our black men. And sadly we have cultured our black men to make it seem they are antagonistically and diametrically opposed to tilling the soil. But that is a lie colonization caused because not one plantation would have produced were it not for the black slaves tilling the soil. But the oppressor tried to program us to believe that planting/farming/working the land is synonymous to slavery and in so doing destroyed the very source of our survival.

But our people are unshackling their minds and as Bob Marley advocated, they are now “emancipating themselves from mental slavery” because “none but ourselves can free our minds.”

Freedom of mind

Freedom of mind comes with a price because while the white oppressors are no longer present in the same colonial form, which was very identifiable, he nonetheless still exists. And more dangerously he exists not in the very definable form we once knew, but rather in the physical form you and I may have, thus making it even more difficult to identify or accept he is our oppressor. This however has served to help me appreciate that slavery was not so much about the proverbial “white man” [no racism nor offense intended] but rather about a philosophy of oppression that can be practiced by anyone wishing to be an oppressor and despite his physical characteristics …

It has been challenging for BGYEA to garner the traction needed because those who are being oppressed like the members and benefactors of BGYEA can no longer single out one oppressor because too often that oppressor is his brother, who looks like him, came from the same neighborhood and for whom he even cast a vote of confidence in the last general election. The oppression as it is now, is even more difficult to countenance because in the new era slavery we the oppressed actually give the power to the oppressor by our vote at election… very much unlike the slaves who crossed the Atlantic by force and had no say as to who would ultimately own them. This new era slavery is worse, because during colonization it was they on the one side and we on the other. Today we are supposedly one flock of sheep but the oppressor is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and we seldom are able to take off their sheep’s clothing to unmask them as the oppressor.

But those who had the vision to form BGYEA and others of like mind have unmasked the oppressor… and he is not white. Take, for example, Dean Oliver Barrow became Belize’s first black Prime Minister and as such there was hope of change and betterment, where our people would co-exist in harmony. In our confused minds, many associated his blackness in skin with their oppression and thought he would identify with their plight and thus he would free them like Moses out of Egypt. However, little did they know it was Pharaoh and his queen that they installed to orchestrate and perpetuate the greatest oppression yet.

If the HonorablePrime Minister indeed was about enabling an independent minded, self-sufficient populace, he and his Cabinet Ministers would not be threatened by the ideology and grassroots mobilization of BGYEA. On the contrary, they would welcome the initiative as it provides them solutions to three of our most crippling socio-economic problems, namely: crime, poverty and sustainability. However, I opine that to solve this problem of the nation is to create one for the existing political system… because it would mean you are now dealing with individuals with freedom in every sense and a new national psyche, which represent the ideals of a free society…thus causing political parties to relinquish the absolute control of power over people and resources they presently enjoy at our expense when we purportedly exercise our freedom to elect them. Strangely enough we cannot exercise our freedom to UN-elect them!

The Grenada Revolution

BGYEA, without intending, is creating a revolution…. Re-generating a movement for freedoms, especially mental freedom which threatens the seat of power. Thus at all cost they must be stopped in their tracks and not allowed to plant the seed of independence, freedom, liberty, productivity, and self-sufficiency… but most of all they must not be allowed to plant the seed of REVOLUTION!

It was when that seed of revolution planted by Grenadian activist, Maurice Bishop, grew and was sown, that he led his followers to stand against a vindictive, corrupt, oppressive government of the then PM Eric Matthew Gairy, who had created his own street gangs to brutalize and kill opponents to his governance. In this present administration, Wave Radio is representative of that violence used to silence dissent.

On November 4, 1973 the New Jewel Movement, led by Maurice Bishop, held a People’s Congress at Seamoon near the St. David’s police station and it was attended by thousands of Grenadians. At said meeting a resolution entitled “The People’s Indictment” was passed making their demands and listing all the atrocities the Gairy government was guilty of. The resolution was prophetic of the coup d’etat that followed, that unseated Gairy and installed Bishop. A read of the People’s Indictment will give Belizeans much to talk about; thus I produced the essence of it below.

“THE PEOPLE’S INDICTMENT”

WHEREAS a government can only rule with the consent of the people

AND WHEREAS a Government is the servant (and not the master) of the people and is under a moral duty to carry out the wishes of the people

AND WHEREAS the PEOPLE elect a Government to provide them with material benefits and to improve the quality of their lives

AND WHEREAS the PEOPLE expect to live free of fear, hunger, misery and exploitation

AND WHEREAS the PEOPLE have a sacred right to work in order to care for their families, educate themselves and their children, house and clothe themselves and obtain proper, adequate and cheap medical attention

AND WHEREAS the people are ALWAYS entitled to withdraw their consent and to remove a Government when it becomes clear that the Government is unable or unwilling to carry out their minimum wishes and supply them with their basic demands

AND WHEREAS the present Government of Grenada has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt both its unwillingness and its inability to carry out the wishes of the people, many of which were stated in the Manifesto issued by the party of the Government in the last elections

AND WHEREAS conclusive proof of the inability and unwillingness of this Government to carry out its mandate to govern us according to our wishes and instructions is provided by the following MAJOR CRIMES committed by the Government against the people, to wit:

1. The Gairy Government encouraged and openly condoned the murders of our citizens: viz. Bro. Jerry Richardson, Bro. Cummings, Bro. Lester Richardson, and Bro. Alister Saunders, among others….. [it lists 27 known offences for which it stood indicted] 23. The Gairy Government has increasingly been giving away our best lands to foreigners…. 27. The Gairy Government has consistently neglected throughout its years in office from 1951 onwards the basic needs of the people for decent housing, adequate clothing, reliable transport, cheap and high quality medical facilities, a better quality of education for all our children, the development (instead of destruction) of our Agriculture for us to feed all our people and the denial of the opportunity to work and earn a livelihood of over half of the people. These are the gravest crimes of which a Government can stand accused and be proved guilty.

AND WHEREAS the PEOPLE of Grenada have now decided that for the reasons given above we must decide on the best course of action now open to us to save Grenada.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that a Congress of the People Meeting at Seamoon on the 4th day of November 1973 has democratically and collectively agreed to take the following actions:

(a) To pass a verdict of guilty on the charges laid against this Government and to condemn this Government for irresponsibility, corruption, incompetence, inefficiency, breach of contract, and to pass a vote of no confidence in the Government.

(b) To call upon this Government to resign with effect from 18th November, 1973.

(c) To appoint a National Unity Council from among persons present at this Congress charged with the responsibility of implementing the decision taken at the Congress to remove this Government from office and to constitute a provisional Government of the People pending the call of New Elections by the Governor to elect a new Popular Government.

(d) To agree to use the New Jewel Movement’s “Manifesto for power to the people” as the basis of a new plan that the new Government will operate to run the country.

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT COPIES OF THIS Resolution of the PEOPLE’S WILL be forwarded to the Governor, Premier and Cabinet as official notice of our decisions taken today.”

Wake up Belize

It would seem that history has shown us that united a people can stand for better. However, that unity can only come if the masses can come to terms with two major facts which are usually hard to accept: 1. We are an abused and oppressed people as a result of the political system and animals we have in power, thus the “nature of the beast” is justified as teamwork and Cabinet collective decisions; and 2. Only we can save ourselves, society and country from this oppression, but we must be united to topple it. If people can’t experience the mental emancipation then we will remain oppressed.

The seed of hope BGYEA seeks to plant through its leaders can either fall on the foot path and be eaten by birds; on the rocky area and not be able to take root; amongst thorns and get choked or on fertile soil and will grow into a conscious movement to liberate our country from the new oppressors.

God bless Belize!

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