Over the last ten years or so, a couple of the older Belizean Muslims have told me that their understanding is that Charles X “Justice” Eagan (Ibrahim Abdullah) had died as a Christian in Chicago in the earlier years of the third millennium. This was absolutely sensational news, not only because of Justice’s incredibly aggressive, charismatic and opinionated character, but because he had been the pioneer in establishing the Nation of Islam in British Honduras/Belize in 1961/1962.
When I ran with Justice in 1970, he lived with a lady named Estelle Neal in More Tomorrow, where he was the chairman. Miss Estelle had six or seven children (none of them for Justice), of whom the one Michael is the present More Tomorrow Chairman. Justice also had a wife in Belize City in 1970.
After he went to jail in 1971 and returned to More Tomorrow in the latter part of the 1970s, at some point he became involved with a wife who lived in Belmopan, had a home in Chicago, and was a committed Christian. My sense is that when Ibrahim became stricken with cancer, this wife flew him to Chicago, where he passed, but not before she had made him renounce Islam and accept the Christ. I’m just saying.
There was an attempt made by the Christian side of the family to bury Odinga Lumumba as a Christian, but he had made me promise to bury him as a Muslim after he last returned to Belize in the late 1990s. The promise I made to Odinga got me into controversy with a couple members of his family.
Anyway, in this column I want to suggest to Mr. Godfrey Smith, who has just published an intriguing work on the life and death of the late Grenada Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, that he investigate the life story of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. C. L. B. “Lindy” Rogers. The story would be sensational, I swear.
The stats I have involve Rogers’ mother, a very poor black Belizean, traveling to work in the republic of Honduras, where she may have become pregnant for a German there. This child, a son, was raised in the desperately poor British Honduras of the 1930s and early 1940s.
The trip he made in 1944 as a teenager along with people like Selvin “Smokey Joe” Wade to Georgia or Alabama to work in the Allied war effort of World War II, had its own drama, such as the fact that Rogers was jailed for attempted murder because of a clash wth a white prison guard.
But where a lot of juicy material would emerge is when Rogers, Charles “Justice” Eagan, Rupert “Babush” Cain, and Reynaldo “Taata Tiddle” Smith, adventurous British Honduras teenagers, would sneak across the border to towns in Honduras and Mexico. They raised money by having Justice engage in prize fights (Rogers as his manager) across the border. (Justice’s boxing moniker was “Bocas del Toro.”)
I got a couple tidbits during my three years running with the late Ray Lightburn in the 1970s. Ray was Rogers’ right hand man in the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) at the time. But Ray was a secretive man.
The thing is, Godfrey Smith and Ray Lightburn were relatives, through Godfrey’s mother, whereas Ray’s older brother, Stretch, is still alive and kicking in Canada, and is very close to Godfrey and Godfrey’s brother, Francis, the orthopedic surgeon.
There is no doubt that Lindy Rogers was one of the most gifted Belizeans, physically and intellectually, in our lifetime, and PUP Leader, Rt. Hon. George Price, recognized his enormous talents, and raised him to a high level in the government.
There was always tension between myself and Mr. Rogers after I began running with the PUP between 1975 and 1977. That was because he had been in charge of PUP government security during the most insurrectionary UBAD years, 1970 to 1972.
I always gave Mr. Rogers maximum respect during my time in the PUP. He was a bigger man than I. That’s for sure.
Power to the people.