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Monday, April 19, 2021
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Professor Joseph Iyo, a Nigerian Ph.D. in history who is in charge of the African history section of the African and Mayan History Project, has been doing interviews for a book on the history of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), an organization which existed in Belize between February 1969 and November 1974.




I am trained to use words, and, when I am writing, I do so carefully and with precision. Words have meanings, but they also have connotations. So the use of words is not scientific. There is usually room for debate and disagreement when words are being used, whereas in a science, such as mathematics or chemistry, two plus two is always four, and nothing more or less, and water is always two atoms of hydrogen bonded with one atom of oxygen ? nothing more and nothing less.


The formation of the United Black Association for Development (UBAD) in 1969 was controversial, but the formation of the National Garifuna Council (NGC) in 1978 was not. The big reason for the different reactions to UBAD and the NGC was the attitude of the priests and nuns in Belize. The priests and nuns were opposed to UBAD, but sympathetic to the NGC. UBAD was a threat, but NGC was not.


After the PUP won a surprise victory over the ruling UDP in the September 1989 general elections, there was an uproar in the intelligence department, or secret service, if you will. The PUP had made it part of their 1989 campaign manifesto that they would disband the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) which had been organized during the UDP?s 1984?1989 administration.

My understanding was that the representatives of United States government agencies in Belize had pushed for this SIS, which amounted to a more professional, more sophisticated, more autonomous version of the traditional Special Branch. The UDP was committed to the SIS, which seemed to be more hostile to the Belizean dons and more cooperative with the Americans.


Arifah Lightburn is my goddaughter, and I suppose I am her personal editor (as I am for Smokey Joe) where her writing in Amandala is concerned. Every week when her material is finished, she passes it to me, and I peruse it.

One thing about editing a writer, in this case a young, brilliant and emerging voice, is that you want to interfere with her material as little as possible. I never interfere with Arifah?s idea content. Almost all the work I do for her, a tiny bit at that, has to do with small style suggestions ? phrasing, punctuation, and the like.


I think the most devastating and successful propaganda that white supremacists have been able to drill into our children, from generation to generation, is that they are smart and we are dumb. The problem with trying to refute the propaganda is that there is evidence all around us which appears to confirm the lie.

If you are trying to establish pride and dignity in your black or brown child, you have to contend with the fact that when he/she looks around, he/she sees that it is the white people who control and manufacture all the fabulous technology on planet earth today ? battleships, nuclear submarines, fighter jets, tanks, artillery, satellite communications, television, cell phones, video games, cloning, stem cell research, and so on and so forth.


In the world of diplomacy, language is an extremely important thing. Diplomats do not speak the way army generals do, for instance. In my column last week, I sought to speak diplomatically, because I did not wish to be seen as being disrespectful to the Opposition United Democratic Party in any kind of way.


The Returning Officer in the Collet constituency upstairs of the Matron Roberts Health Center that night in late October 1974 was a tall, bespectacled, fair-skinned Customs officer whose last name was Tucker. I?m not sure of his first name. (He and his wife later migrated to the United States.) The chief counting agent for the PUP candidate, Vernon Harrison Courtenay, was his brother, Derek Courtenay. The chief counting agent for the UDP candidate, Kenneth Tillett, was a long time Belize Estate (BEC) employee, Karl Mahler, now deceased. The chief counting agent for the UBAD candidate, Evan X Hyde, was his younger brother, Nelson Oliver.


When I returned to Belize in May/June of 1968, I was Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude as a graduate in English from Dartmouth College. This was big news in Belize then, the fact that I?d succeeded in my first degree at an Ivy League school, but today it really wouldn?t mean diddly.

The way the American system works, everybody gets a first degree, and then, armed with a Bachelor?s degree, you go on to graduate school in business, law, medicine, or whatever. So, strictly speaking, I should have gone on to graduate school. I had some application forms, but at some point, I just decided to go home and to hell with it. I was 21.

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