I noh happy that October 12 is not a national holiday. I really thought we were about to celebrate Indigenous Day, and I already have my little bottle of local spirits, and have been searching for some good marimba tunes to complement my favorite “boracho” songsters. Anyway, people on the periphery, like me, don’t need holidays or weekends to celebrate being, so I will flow. But the holiday was symbolic.
October 12 started out as Columbus Day, and what a great sailor that guy was, and a bloodthirsty brute. In the embellishment business, some have said he sailed the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria through hurricanes, but he couldn’t have, not on the open sea. His fan club is best served by saying his voyage was blessed, because fair winds blew his ships to our shores.
Most Belizeans, those of us with blood of the Maya, the Ibo, and the Mandingo, unable to separate the good from the evil, and unable to dictate to our governments, we chiseled away until we usurped the day set aside to celebrate Columbus, just like the early Catholics usurped and then dominated the pagans’ days.
Fast-forwarding to the new government, it seems they were set on dropping October 12 and making a new holiday, August 1, called Freedom Day, to celebrate our Afro and Mayan roots. Speeding on, August 1st is Emancipation Day across the Caribbean, and if I have it right, some Emancipation Day advocates here saw dilution, this Freedom Day, so we ended up with August 1 being celebrated solely as Emancipation Day. But what happened to what we had begun to refer to as Indigenous Day, a celebration of our other roots?
I thought we had kept October 12… what a surprise it got blanked out. I don’t know what the government’s plan is, but they will have to make this right. Will we get back October 12, will we get a new day, or will Emancipation Day have to share the wealth? We know George Price isn’t going to give up anything, not while Henry Charles has breath and the PUP is in power, but something has to give. We have two roots groups, afro and straight, black hair, and we insist on celebrating them both, properly.
It is necessary for all our tribes to celebrate their resistance. Our Mayan ancestors withstood the force of the Spaniards, and in this country we call Belize, they resisted the British when they came. There were no spectacular victories. The Spaniards and British with their cannons were too powerful. I don’t go gaga over any stories about us defeating the white ancestors. Our Mayan ancestors resisted, and that’s the full glorious yard.
Brother Romel Cuello might be a teetotaling pastor, I don’t know, but his last name being that of a famous maker of rum in Belize, and the essential Green Ting, he would have to publicly lodge a disclaimer to escape the brand. There is no shame in it; hmm, on the quiet some of us think there is glory, but in a democratic society there are always little renegade pockets that are, bah, different.
From the belly of the beast, or just a shared last name, in a recent letter to the editor Brother Romel says that for a time the government will need to introduce a ley seca, because drink is contributing to the spread of Covid-19. Romel intimates that some Belizeans don’t fully grasp that Covid is spread by the breath, and he says that one of the “main culprits is socializing, with alcoholic drinks being involved.” Romel said, yap, that one safety measure we need is a ban on alcohol sales for a while—”except to alcoholics who cannot live without it.”
People keep telling me that the police have never enforced the Covid-19 protocols as they pertain to bars. I have heard about people being fined for not wearing masks, or being out past the mandated hours, but I am not aware of rum shop owners being hauled in. It must have happened, but on the scale of speakeasy beverage sellers I am hearing about, there wouldn’t be lawyers enough to defend all of them.
Okay, it is easy for me to support that measure, because I mostly drink alone, but you don’t need to like drink to see the sense in the suggestion. I always study Romel’s letters to the editor, because the brother has a lot of knowledge, and he obviously weighs the issues carefully before he shares his ideas. It’s a tough one, but if it’s the only way to fell Covid, dry it must be.
If not the WHO, who?
I’m certain there were missteps by the leading medical authorities during the 1918 flu pandemic, and there were missteps during the minor pandemics since. There were missteps made by the leaders of the medical world when they were devising strategies to deal with tuberculosis, malaria, polio, dengue, and other diseases. These medical leaders are always at each other, and a few of them are not altogether scrupulous or at the top of their game or completely free of biases, but put all their heads together and that’s the best there is.
There are vast countries in the world, and they all have their “Centers for Disease Control”, and understandably the priority of these rich countries is to find treatments for diseases that directly affect them. The World Health Organization (WHO), created in 1948, is the health body of the United Nations, and in our world it’s the WHO, and nobody else.
In Belize we depend on the WHO to gather the information, sift through the studies, and give the mandate. Yes, countries in Central America and South America and Africa are not amongst the richest in the world, and so diseases endemic in these areas don’t get the same amount of research funds that diseases endemic in the rich countries do. However, because we are an interconnected world, the rich countries release some funds to the WHO, to help with our problems, the ones which can become theirs if they are neglected.
The WHO is our guide, and we are wise to heed their advice, because this is the body that is least infiltrated by the politics, the avarice, and the other narrow self-interests of the rich. The WHO will make mistakes, there are no perfect people or organizations in the world, but they are the only horse in our race.
Sometimes I slow
In a brief encounter with the illustrious Yasser Musa some years ago, in a discussion about the arts and artists, a territory where I’m very green, he explained to me that artists frequently lose track of time. I must have been punctual for my appointment with him, and somehow my feelings about people who are late had come up. And he made the excuse for his breed. Look, no beating around the bush, I believe it is wrong to waste another’s time, because that gift is between each of us and our God.
Aha, recently when I was writing I noticed how the time slipped by me, how easily an hour disappeared, and that was when I realized what Yasser was talking about. But I still don’t give a pass to the unpunctual. If I tell you I will help you raid a certain mango tree at nine o’clock tonight, save your worry about my share in the crime. I’ll be there at eight, at a near enough place so that it would take an extreme act of the Great One to make me fail you in our dishonest mission.
Whoa, that talking about time, it doesn’t apply to the other sex. They are a different breed; they march to a very different drummer.