I started listening to podcasts sometime mid last year as an attempt to supplement my reading and practise my listening skills. I then decided to start my own, which is named “Walasaha” — a Garifuna word for the phrase, “our search.” This too is an attempt to remain creative, practice public speaking, share my thoughts and open a space for others to share their stories. The focus is politics, art and history of Latin America and the Caribbean, with special focus on Belize. I also listen to a lot of Belizean podcasters, and recently Natasha Stuart interviewed Allan Pollard, Jr., the young politician that dared to take on a historically United Democratic Party stronghold as a member of the People’s United Party on his first go at contesting general elections. He said a lot of things, the interview was an hour-long, but what stood out to me was his response to a question about his audacity to contest in Queen’s Square. “Aftah wah while yo just staat believe.” It was so simple and yet so inspiring! We live in a society that is shrouded by a pandemic which forces all of us to be political in our existence, looking for answers that are complex to the everyday questions about curfews, quarantines, when will be the next time that we’ll be able to buy tacos by the courthouse on Regent Street. All of these important political issues.
I think the reason Allan’s response was my main takeaway is because of its honesty. It was not academic, not bogged down by party political loyalty, not stained and strained by deep-seated regret. It had an aura of gratitude for the opportunity itself and reflected the audacity to say yes to what was essentially a political no-go zone. I see that same spirit lingering among us youth these days. I see youth having coherent, analytical and deeply personal opinions on the world around us. I see exhilarating arousal of young people’s appetite for partaking in electoral politics, rightly reflected on municipal convention ballots.
I’ve been travelling for a long time, first through the National Geographic magazines that my Uncle Louis forced me to read, and then as I moved into professional life. I’ve been blessed enough to traverse 14 countries and now live in one that I was not born in, Barbados. With that blessing, I have developed an eye to see things from the vantage point of a Belizean abroad. It’s a different view, one that complements patriotism, an awareness that sees simplicity. The same simplicity that lies in recognizing the duality of the beauty of South Side Belize City existence. A duality recognized by Pollard even this early in his political odyssey, one that I hope we may all recognize. An attempt at being audacious enough to pursue critical consciousness in whatever space we occupy. With all the difficult days we have had in Belize and that we no doubt will continue to have because of a virus, blaring in our ear and glaring into our eyes, “aftah wah while yo just staat believe.”