Features — 14 August 2019
We need a hero

With the UDP disgraced – who could have believed that any party in the country that had the NIP as one of its wings could become so corrupt, associated with so many illegal, nefarious and even downright dangerous activities?

The UDP wing fell into the PUP trap and we ended up choosing a path to the ICJ. It is a solid road, but there’s absolutely no glory there. No one will ever sing: We are go-ing to the I-C-J, throwing ourselves on the mercy of the court, knowing that they will tell those bad bullies, to lib off.

Bah, no country has ever allowed another country to claim their entire territory in court, but we allowed our leaders, PUP and UDP, to back us into that. Knowing their past, very, very well, we expected anything from the PUP. The UDP didn’t cover themselves in any glory here. In fact, dehn shud a shame for all their devious machinations to get a “yes” vote. It is not only what you do, yu noa: how yu do it is important too. When you’re ashamed for what you’ve done, prostrate yuself.

The disgraced UDP can’t lead us. They chose Mammon, over honor, and they put us in a vice where we couldn’t say no. My, you see why you can never trust anyone until they are proven through fire. A lot of people talk, how they are honest this, and trustworthy that, and their knees get weak so fast when they are put to the test.

Ouch, our great heroine, Ms. Sharon Pitts, having taken the money, chose loot over nation – my, wasn’t it just yesterday that she pelted some brothers who had gone astray with eggs — was it so long ago that just to hear her voice stirred up imageries of our glorious victory?

Glorious, charming Miss Emma, she is all we have left – and she has gone into retirement. The famous firebrand she was grooming, Ms. Zenaida, how we were hoping that she would pick up the torch and keep it burning, but she had to go and overrule the judges who selected the queen.

We are in disarray, our forces are scattered, and in times like these we might have to go outside of our traditional reserves. Ai, if only it wasn’t too much to ask for Audrey Matura. She is from Corozal, like Clinton Canul Luna, and you get the feeling that certain leaders up there are more concerned with their Bay, the one with the emerald milky waters, than the Battle in Belize harbor.

Hooray for Emancipation Day celebrations, but if they felt we will be turning our backs on the Glorious 10th and the Battle to end Spain’s greedy design on our lee piece of paradise, the answer is no. This noble spot we know is here bikaaz of the 10th, so we will rejoice.

It is utterly false, the belief in some quarters, that the colonial masters embellished the story about the participation of our slave ancestors when we celebrated the 1st Centenary in 1898. It is true that they wanted to deflect from the Emancipation Day celebration initiative, but they did not inflate the heroics of the slaves on the 10th to achieve that.

Allow mi, I am just sorry that I have to mention names like Diki Bradley, Assad Shoman, and Clinton Canul Luna in this story. I don’t know what day men like these celebrate. Must be Columbus Day. To each his own. We are a nation of many tribes and so we allow, accommodate that.

They don’t celebrate 1718 and 1754. In A. H. Anderson’s Brief Sketch of British Honduras, he says that in 1718 a “Spanish force from Peten penetrated as far as Spanish Lookout on the Belize River and there erected a fort, soon to be abandoned.”

And, “in 1754 the Spanish again attempted another but more serious invasion from Peten. They penetrated as far as Labouring Creek, where they were routed by settlers with their negro slaves: this incident is locally known as the Battle of Labouring Creek.”

And then, of course, there is 1798, glorious 1798, the Battle that settled things once and for all, the Battle that made it known to the world that we were here to stay.

Anderson said, “Captain Moss reports that no one was killed on our side, but that the enemy must have suffered much. He (Moss) writes: ‘The spirit of the Negro Slaves that manned our small crafts was wonderful and good management of the different Commanders does them great credit.’

“Colonel Barrow received news of the impending attack on the afternoon of the 10th and immediately hurried out to the Cay with the two hundred troops of the reserve force. He was, however, too late to have any share in the action. The enemy continued in sight until the night of the 15th when they moved off.

“A private letter dated September 25, 1798, describing the action, contains the following passage: ‘You will be astonished to hear that our Negro men (who manned the flats) gave a hearty cheer, and in the midst of a firing of grape kept up upon them from the Spanish vessels that covered those which were aground, those negroes in an undaunted manner rowed their boats, and used every exertion to board the enemy; but Captain Moss, who directed everything, called back the flats (from motives of prudence) first  by signal, and then by sending a boat.’”

Look, we know why our slave ancestors fought in the Battle. Many of them were born here. This is the only home they knew, and slavery was the only life they knew. For the free colored, the children of our European ancestors that were born to our female ancestors, slave and Mayan, they had rights here. Most of them were the nephews and nieces of our slave ancestors.

Look, I know there are people who would have preferred that our slave ancestors had rebelled by drowning themselves, or by slaughtering our white ancestors. The real is they resisted where they could, and they kept the faith that their children would see a better day. This band of slaves, their ancestors so far away from where they came, were they just mercenaries, or were they making a conscious choice between two devils? I’m not about to feel ashamed that they fought.

They fought, and because they fought they, and the renegades of Scotland, their masters, won, and there was peace in the land. The next day, yes, after the white ancestors told them thanks for their gallantry, they were back to their servitude.

All these detractors of the 10th, I want to know what we have done for the betterment of the children of the slaves. Yes, we got self-government in 1964, and independence in 1981, and what’s our excuse? We are just as poor now as we were then. True, the shackles are gone from our feet, but are there jobs for our youth? All we see around us are fancy infrastructure, but we are slipping off the edge of the building.

It’s always false hope. 1981 was false hope. 1964 was false hope. Yes, 1798 was false hope for our slave ancestors too. But we can’t let go of hope. That’s why we still sing of 1964 and 1981. These songs we sing for the 10th, they rekindle our hope, and we cannot afford to let hope die. We need a hero. We need someone to lead us – God’s goodness gave this land to me – A symbol of love is the Queen of the Bay – We are marching today and proudly sing – I love to tell the story of this land I know so well – It was the Tenth day of September…

Yes, I’m rambling. Pray that I continue to, because when I stop I’ll go pick up my pokonoh bwai stik.

We need a hero. The Kriol Kongsyl, led by Ms. Mryna Manzaneres and Dr. Silvaana Udz, has indicated their willingness to take over the day and the way it looks they are the last man standing. Thanks to the philistines, the other roots tribes, the Maya and the Garinagu, and some new tribes here too, look at the Kriols with a little suspicion. What a pity they show a lack of interest in the 10th. The philistines did a good job. This round goes to them, but we won’t quit.

I don’t want to see no low creds people pushing themselves to the fore of the table. People who are tainted must know their place. You can support, but you cannot lead. We can’t expect to find anyone among the traditional group to lead us bikaaz dehn all done gaan an choose Mammon.

It’s just not possible to find someone with the 10th credentials of a Miss Emma, but the leaders of the Kriol Kongsyl have a very bright candle. What we don’t know is if they will learn to love and cherish the day like Miss Emma, and Aunt Tensi, and the guy who used to ride the big red stallion at the head of the parade. They just might want to use the day to promote all things Kriol. There will have to be a prenup. The Kongsyl will have to agree to keep the 10th flayva.

A noatis that our Dr. Udz was here for the launching of Ivory Kelly’s new book, Pengereng, so she just might be hanging around to see if the 10th falls into their lap. Me, I will drink my rum and celebrate with that crowd every day. Me da Belizean to the bone an I kom from the Kriol tribe; dem da mi pipl.

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Deshawn Swasey

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