We older Belizean sporting fans are mourning heavily because two of our very, very greatest — Pat Bennett (softball) and Arthur “Goatman” Leslie (football) passed within a day of each other just before the Garifuna holiday.
These two were special in the extreme, because Pat was the finest (and educated) lady you can imagine, while Goatman was a total gentleman. I never heard him curse or display any ungentlemanly behavior.
My column today is not about the aforementioned losses, however, but about a headline story I wrote 35 years ago, entitled “… and Rhaburn ruled the city.” Dr. Lord Gerald is finally receiving some of the official accolades he richly deserves. We have been calling for such accolades for decades in this newspaper.
I’ve heard Dr. Lord refer to this story more than once over the years, and my sense is that he enjoyed said story. All these 35 years, I’ve saved a copy of the original newspaper in which the story was published. The newsprint has turned brown it is so old. As soon as I link the Lord, I will make a gift to him of this original.
For the rest of you, I will reproduce the story as it was written in 1987. I will not include a two-paragraph editorial I wrote at the end of the story. This was 1987, and the mighty PUP had lost power for the first time just three years before, general elections were due in 1989, and the politics was warm in Belize. Here goes:
… and Rhaburn ruled the city
BELIZE CITY, Fri. Sept. 11 (1987)
The music confrontation many had hoped for did not materialize yesterday morning in the city. Sounds Incorporated, the punta rock exponents, remained in their native Dangriga, and Lord Rhaburn and his new song, “Puntarama”, ruled the city parade from Memorial Park to Yarborough Green.
Calypso Rose jammed with The New Messengers, but their challenge was turned back by the Lord, and he defended the crown he has held from time immemorial. So The New Messengers, who are considered to have gained an edge over Rhaburn in the discos and public places, yielded to him in the streets.
Investigation this morning indicates that music may now be politics. The manager of the Sounds Incorporated, Mike Zabaneh, is a member of the PUP executive in Dangriga. The committee in charge of St. George’s Caye Day celebrations in Dangriga, had contracted with Sounds Incorporated, the hottest band in the land, to play for their parade at 9:30 yesterday morning.
Sounds Incorporated showed up three hours late, when the parade was almost over, then turned around and went to play by Zabaneh’s Riverside disco.
Mike Zabaneh is brother to John Zabaneh, who was kidnapped by American drug enforcement agents while on a business trip to Guatemala in 1985. The UDP government did nothing to help him, or to complain, so you can hardly expect Mike Zabaneh to be in love with the UDP.
In any case, PUP Chairman Said Musa in a telephone interview this morning confirmed that Sounds Incorporated will be the feature attraction at the party’s Independence Day celebrations in the PUP yard on Queen Street.
Government did not give the PUP permission to block off the street, but the chances are, with Sounds Incorporated going off, there will be an overflow crowd on Queen Street September 21.
In the St. George’s Caye Day parade yesterday morning in the city, the PUP was officially represented by Mr. Winston Smiling of the September Celebrations Committee, and this is probably a first.
The parade itself was not as big as it has been in the past, when many Belizeans marched as an expression of defiance and in crusade against excesses of the previous government.
Although all the major UDP city leaders were participants, it was clear that they had not organized divisional representations, so the parade was more free form than a show of strength.
There was a higher percentage of participation from Belizean Americans than ever before, and a large turnout of young people.