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From The Publisher

PublisherFrom The Publisher

I did a course in economics at Dartmouth (just one), and the result of that was that when I spent the summer holidays of 1967 in Belize, and the Rotary Club of Belize invited me to address them, I brought something from that course to the Rotary podium (probably at the old Fort George Hotel.)

At my age, and going back 55 years, I can’t swear that it was specifically from that economics course that I brought my stats. By the winter of 1967, my best friend at Dartmouth was an economics major named Guy Mhone. Mhone, a native of Malawi (formerly Nyasaland), went on after Dartmouth to do a Ph. D. in economics. It is possible that it was he who had schooled me on this specific point.

In any case, I explained to the elite group which is Rotary that the concept of foreign aid which developed nations give to less developed ones, is a deceptive one. If, for example, the mighty United States had lowered their tariffs on imported bicycles from India, which was a relatively poor country in 1967, the lowering of those tariffs would have assisted the Indians economically substantially more than whatever the Americans were then giving to the Indians as foreign aid.

I had already been somewhat radicalized by the summer of 1967, but the point I made about foreign aid was not anything that anyone on any higher education campus would have considered a radical concept. 

After the speech, I was approached by Mr. Edgar Gegg, a ranking businessman and prominent Roman Catholic, and Mr. Lee Andersen, who was the general manager of the Royal Bank of Canada (which became the Belize Bank in the late 1980s). Mr. Andersen had been the guest speaker when my St. John’s College class held its graduation exercises in December of 1963 at the old Majestic Theater. (What I always remembered from his speech, for whatever the reason, was the statement: “The end of one day is the beginning of another.”)

Mr. Gegg said to me, “You are a dangerous man.” Now, I was such a jerk in 1967 that I actually felt flattered by a statement that held a serious warning for me. How stupid you are at age 20!

Looking back, I realize that I had been basically protected by the power structure in British Honduras, which became a self-governing colony in 1964. As a child and youth, I was no threat to the people who ran things here. My speech at Rotary in 1967 sent off the wrong signals to some very big people. 

I want to do a little bio here on Guy Mhone, a brilliant economist who was teaching at a university in Johannesburg, South Africa, when he died on a hospital operating table (appendicitis) at the age of 62.

In 1965, Guy Mhone was an activist student leader in Malawi, who was considered a threat by the Malawi president, Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who was collaborating with South Africa’s apartheid government, which had jailed Nelson Mandela in 1963. Mandela was a revolutionary hero for all the activist students in the countries around South Africa, which included Malawi.

A philanthropist foreign group managed to get Guy Mhone out of Malawi and enrolled at Dartmouth before Banda could jail or kill him. Banda was still in power when Mhone graduated from Dartmouth in 1968. All the while, as Mhone was doing post-graduate economics in the U.S. during the 1970s, then teaching in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, Mandela remained in jail in South Africa. Madiba spent a total of 27 years in jail before being released in 1990.

I don’t know when Guy Mhone finally managed to return to Malawi, because we lost contact with each other for many years, until sometime in the middle/late 1990s.

A few weeks ago, a cousin of mine in New York City phoned me to say that a certain individual from the elite classes in Belize had posted on his Facebook page an article excoriating me and lamenting the fact that I didn’t become a Belizean Nelson Mandela. I’m not in the Facebook world, and nobody else said anything to me about the post.

Well now, the individual who wanted me to be Nelson Mandela just got himself in big trouble in India, of all places, a few days ago. His father was the same senior Gegg who had talked to me after my Rotary speech in 1967. Belize is such a small place, and the world is such a small world.

Personally, I didn’t think I could survive in jail the way Mandela did. I’m not half the man Madiba was. That is why I told my UBAD brethren to break me out of jail if I was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1970.

In any case, there IS apartheid in “nature’s best kept secret.” But, Belizean apartheid is very subtle, very slick. Religion is in the mix. The only time you really see the apartheid is when people like Lisa come visiting.

Bless up. 

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