The news that broke early this week that Dara Robinson’s feeding program for hungry children is on life support was just one more heartbreaker for our old capital roots community, coming just days after a stepfather had apparently gone berserk in the Lovely Lane/Pink Jungle area of the Northside and murdered one of the boy children in his care.
You may note that I referred to our old capital “roots” community, instead of the traditional “black” community, because this is how it is today: Belize City is no longer black the way our generation remembers it. This is real.
Almost three years ago, Pen Cayetano held a tribute for I in Dangriga, on which occasion I told my audience that they were seeing “what was left of Evan X Hyde.” The audience did not encourage this kind of negativity, but I believe it is massively important today that we older Belizeans stare the facts directly in the face. People my age who did not make the transition to the new social media and computer/internet technology have become largely irrelevant. Personally, I did not make that transition. Belize and the world have speeded up to the point where most old people like myself have to struggle just to understand the communications techniques and languages of the younger generations.
Anyway, I do have a subject I want to discuss today, and it is the level at which the game for control of The Jewel known as Belize is being played. In early last year, thereabouts, there was a fake news which began to be circulated on the internet to the effect that Evan X Hyde was the “sixth richest man in Belize.” This fake news went international, and there were people who thought it sounded pretty plausible. After all, this X Hyde was the executive chairman of a Kremandala business group which included the leading newspaper in Belize, a radio station, and a television station.
In fact, the fake news was ridiculous, because this said Kremandala group, its radio and television employees can tell you, has been in a battle for financial survival since early 2014. When you look at all the Chinese, Indians, Mennonites, and American billionaires and multimillionaires who dominate Belize’s business/financial world, our tourism destinations, our major agro-industrial investments, and so on and so forth, how could Evan X Hyde have possibly been rated one of the richest here? Absolutely ridiculous.
The sinister brilliance behind the fake news had to do with the fundamental fact that this Kremandala is a business, like public broadcast radio in the United States, where the financial support of the listeners is more important than the revenue from corporate advertisers. Consider, beloved, how the hell does Kremandala survive without any advertising support whatsoever from the behemoth Chinese and Indian business groups in our population center, and only minimal advertisements from the Mennonites? So that, when the fake news sought to brand yours truly as one of the rich boys in Belize, it was a tactic ultimately designed to prevent humble roots and middle class Belizeans from appreciating how vital they have been for five decades to the existence and support of Partridge Street. “Power to the people” is not just a slogan: it is how this whole communications system which informs and defends roots Belizeans came to be.
Listen here, there are some very, very wealthy people who own radio and television stations in Belize. The information and opinions they broadcast are designed to protect, 24/7, the status quo. What is the status quo? The status quo is the state of affairs where Dara’s feeding program is on life support, and where our roots community in the old capital has deteriorated to the point where we cannot protect our children from poor homes.
I no longer have the strength to wage war, as a way of life, on behalf of freedom, justice and equality. All I can do today is ask questions. What happened to our people? Yes, I have my own ideas, but I told you way back in this essay: my generation and I are not relevant in 2020 the way we used to be.
There are certain places you go in Belize City and Ladyville where you wonder what role the traditional natives are playing. Who sold us out? The questions of what role our Belizean diaspora is playing, and how aware our Belizean diaspora is of the reality on the ground here, are pressing ones.
I was never a saint, but I was honest. This is not a personality prescription for politics. I am not a political animal. Bottom line then, we have to build pressure on the professional politicians to answer some pressing questions. As I write, the most pressing question may be: what happened to Dara’s feeding program?
Power to the people.