Roberta Flack’s “The first time ever I saw your face” sailed up to #1 on America’s Billboard Top 100 hits in 1972.
This song, along with the hits of many other Black artists of that time, helped to define the “Soul Era”. This was a time when wars, oppression, discrimination and mental barriers around the world were still rife and had to be torn down through music, arts and the written word.
In fact, many of the human rights and privileges this present generation enjoys were fought for during that era; sometimes in bloody riots. No matter how you chose to fight the establishment back then, it was done with heart and “soul”.
If you still have vinyl today and are able to listen to the crisp sound of Roberta’s “Killing me softly” or Abba’s “Fernando” over a wooden floor like we used to in Cayo, I envy you. I envy you bad.
Amandala was one of those defining products of Belize’s “Soul Era”. After its creation in 1969, these bold pages grew into a powerful weekly publication in the 1970’s and never looked back. Through its investigative journalism and determination to bring forth the truth, the newspaper gained the respect and trust of the majority of Belizeans at home and abroad.
Persons who remember Radio Belize will testify to you that while we listened to the daily news over the airwaves back then, it was really when the fiery pages of Amandala hit the streets on Fridays that we knew we were getting the heart of the story. Who bex bex!
But Belizeans had to get the full story from the brave journalists. All of this from a group of persons calling themselves “X”.
Amandala’s early struggles have benefited our country beyond words. Belizeans today stand tall in the arts and music, on radio and television, and in sports, because someone ahead of you set the stage and fought the battles to make things better.
I suggest you all take a history lesson to appreciate what has been earned, because it can also easily be lost.
I have learned at least three things from reading this newspaper over the years:
First: ALLEGIANCE. That’s the most important. Belizean allegiance to this soil we have been given to be productive, to be happy, and to praise our Creator.
Second: VOICE. I have learned to stand up and lift my voice with the rest of the crowd and shout in unity when it becomes necessary to chant down oppression.
Third: HUMBLENESS. I have learned to accept that many things are beyond the control of man. For those things that hurt us but which we cannot change, all we can do is sit down and cry.
After everything has been said and done over all this time, it must be stated that you still got SOUL, Belizean X. Congratulations.
Ready for the NEXT 50? It will be one hell of a ride!
Power to the Oppressed!