Features — 29 November 2017 — by Bernard Bulwer
“So much things to say” … national conversation needed

BEB, Boston, MA, 3:07 AM–“SO MUCH THINGS TO SAY” (Bob Marley). The older I get, and the more I see and experience “Babylon System” as the Rastas call it, the more I respect men like Bob who I consider as the “real revolutionaries” (to use his own words). They use whatever talents they’ve been given, to uplift and empower others … not just their families, tribe, or tongue.

Bob’s words and sayings like “downpression”, “Babylon system”, “Pimper’s Paradise”, “Ambush in the Night”, and so much more, speak real truth, based on his experience and the Scriptures he sung.

Barely in his 20’s he sang about being “sick and tired of the -isms, schisms.” With respect to politics, in his song Slogans, he wrote, “Can’t take your slogans no more.” “Confusing the people … While your asphalt burns our tired feet, I see borders and barriers …Segregation, demonstration and riots … A-sufferation of the refugees.” In his song, “Coming in from the Cold,” he wrote, “Would you let the system make you kill your brotherman? … It’s you, it’s you, it’s you I’m talking to.”

That’s why his songs are timeless and even more relevant, in our day.

Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, knows that the lust for power, including political power, is mostly about domination and control. In most countries, when you strip away all the labels, what you see is that people are mostly controlled through a “keep them poor, keep them stupid, and you can control them (for life)” system. As I post this on the Belizean Diaspora FB page, it is clear to me why the Diaspora is denied voting rights. The bottom line is that the Diaspora consists of people that Belmopan cannot control. Strip away all the talk and verbal gymnastics … It is as simple as that. “I can’t control you, so I will marginalize you.”

Throughout Belize’s history, when you strip away all the labels, most honest observers will realize that “a game has been played.” It’s a big game that’s being played at many levels. Historically, Belize emerged out of a global geopolitical game. At the local Belizean level, to one extent or another, we have been participants in this game, wittingly or unwittingly. I have heard it said in different ways, that if a pimp or a pirate was looking for a country to hijack, he would choose British Honduras, Belize. Most Belizeans have no idea that Belize was once considered to be a possible location for a modern Jewish state. I read this in a book shown to me by the late Bert Tucker.

I have seen the inner dynamics of many things in Belize. Many of our people know what’s going on. Our people have played … and have been played. Belize, since its inception has been a Pimper’s Paradise. It’s a place where pirates first lingered. It’s a place where pirates still linger.

I am no prophet of doom. But my life’s outlook and training has taught me to face reality. You have to get the patient’s history, perform an examination, do some tests, make a diagnosis, before writing a prescription, or admitting the patient, or performing surgery … sometimes radical surgery. The mere fact that a patient is alive is a cause for hope. But hope alone can’t and won’t fix it. A visit to Accidents & Emergency is proof of this. Hope has to be accompanied by effective action.

The Belizean nation is neither hopeless or helpless. I have written elsewhere, that Belize is a wealthy country, However, its true wealth lies not in real estate, or its soil, or what’s below ground. Its true wealth lies in its people.

You cannot build a solid structure on a shaky foundation. A shaky foundation is the path that post-independence Belize has pursued. History has shown us how nations, once battered or destroyed, arose from destruction. One that tops my list is South Korea. A nation gutted by geopolitics, with land area about 5 times that of Belize, with few natural resources, but with an economy ranked #11, bigger than Russia’s. The true wealth of countries like South Korea and Singapore lies in their people. What they did for their people … the vision that they set for their nation.

To me, it is impossible for Belize to turn around without a vision, without sincerity, without true love for the citizenry. Our political tribalism practices a form of cannibalism. As a nation we are devouring one another.  It is clear to me that politics in Belize has been mostly about winning elections. It has never truly been about building up the Belizean nation and its Diaspora. It has never been about making the nation strong. Politicians of all stripes have created a culture of dependency. It’s a pimp culture. It hasn’t really been about progress. Guatemala is no match for a strong Belizean nation! A nation with a genocidal history and an unrepentant attitude towards its majority would be no match for a nation with a vision and a strategy.

I speak of what I know. You may not know this because I didn’t publicize this, but last year, I negotiated for Belize and the University of Belize to have Harvard Medical School — the richest and leading medical school in this country, to provide continuing medical education (CME) for 100% of Belizean MDs … I also shared the vision and the need to have a modern University Hospital of Belize (UB) on UB’s Belmopan campus. Getting the funding would be part of my job.

This is not a pipe dream. This is how the open-heart surgery program in Belize was DONE (In YouTube, type “First Open Heart Surgical Procedures Done In Belize”). I offered a vision how UB could tap into the enormous wealth of the Belizean Diaspora, offer adjunct and visiting professorships to Belizeans in academia and other fields in the Diaspora, who could then engage, inspire, and open doors for UB and students nationwide.

I spoke with the UB leadership about meaningful global partnerships for UB, and about how to get hundreds and hundreds of scholarships for UB students through partnerships with universities the world over. I shared with them evidence of how foreign universities were collecting many millions (from their students in the USA and globally) for courses offered on Belizean soil … teaching Belizean Archaeology, Zoology, Anthropology/Culture/Linguistics, Marine and the Meso-America reef system, and more. (By the way, these foreign universities and institutions offer UB mere crumbs, and we seem happy with that! This is what happens in the land of the blind, where the one-eyed man is king). I shared with UB leadership my view that “Ordinary universities offer courses, but UB (can) offer a country!” Not even Harvard or Oxford can make such a claim. With vision, UB can become a big foreign exchange earner for Belize.

I furthermore spoke of the need for an online (hurricane-proof) UB campus, with programs where Belize’s education offerings can be not just for students on UB campuses, but also for Belizeans at work, at home and abroad, and for the global community.

I also told the UB leadership that what was most important, was not my offer to help lead our national university… but that some of these ideas be embraced, and that I would still do my part to pursue such … and without pay. After the job was given to a foreigner, I again called UB leadership to express my desire to pursue such. No meaningful response.

I went further still, I also shared with one financially-connected leader at UB, the vision for how one education connection, with one of the richest (per capita) countries in the world with a massive sovereign wealth fund, could underwrite Belize’s national debt, and more. We have things that their money cannot buy. I wrote of my desire to explore and pursue such an option, at the highest level. The response I got was silence.

Scripture says, “My people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).” and “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18). At my first meeting with the UB leadership at the Radisson Fort George back in September 2016, they saw my tears.

Those tears were not for me. Those were tears for my countrymen.

One thing that life has taught me is that you can only play a game for so long. Every beginning has an end. The Belizean game of musical chairs has a shelf-life. My fellow Belizeans: Our “chickens have come home to roost.”  And not all …  Worse still, these aren’t simply chickens. These are what Israel Vibrations sang about .. the “Vultures are waiting” (google the lyrics).

What happens next is up to us. Belizeans, stop playing games! Politicians of all stripes …stop playing games! Level with your people! I have zero interest in party politics, but we need to vote for issues, for solutions, not for politicians or personalities.

Take it or leave it, but I believe that life is no accident of history. There is a real thing called Judgement Day. For your own sake stop playing games with your people! Where is the love? “Weh di use ah live big today, tomorrow yuh bury in a casket? (Bob Marley)”. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

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