Editorial — 14 June 2010
Street reports are that one of the young men charged with the shooting of the attorney Rodwell Williams is the son of Belize’s greatest footballer over the last two decades, Norman “Tiliman” Nunez. If we remember correctly, the accused teenager himself had shown exceptional football potential a few years ago, so that he must have been sidetracked in some way.
The leader of Belize’s branch of FIFA is in Johannesburg blowing vuvuzelas with his colleagues and cronies, and it is for sure that a good time is being had by FIFA Belize at the 2010 South Africa World Cup. But the organizing of football in Belize has not been done in a sincere way for the many years of Dr. Bertie Chimilio’s presidency. That dysfunction in Belize football directly contributes to the craziness in our streets. Many talented young men see no future, certainly no present, in Belize football. The only alternative, then, for those who have not reached the secondary level in education or skills training, is the gangs.
In the early 1970s, a Belize City Central Market butcher by the name of Lester “Bailar” Smith organized a group of young footballers in a team he called Lakers (for Lake Independence). These were young men who lived in what were new Belize City housing areas west of Collet Canal and north of Cemetery Road. In those days, Lake Independence more or less ended on Partridge Street. Everything west of that came afterwards.
Bailar found a sponsor for the 1973/1974 season by the name of Ernest Black, who had become the agent here for Berger paints. For that new season, when Lakers took on the name “Berger 404,” Bailar had added non-Lake residents, Christobal Mayen and Larry “Charro” Bennett, to his playing roster. The following season, 1974/1975, Berger 404 won the first of several first division football titles won by Lake Independence-based squads.
By 1999, however, when Dangriga’s Anthony “Garrincha” Adderly, himself a former Berger 404 superstar and the younger brother of James Adderly, approached Kremandala chairman, Evan X Hyde, with a football proposition, Kremandala had become disenchanted with how the imported gang culture of Mayflower Street, Bailar’s old residence, was beginning to dominate the area’s football teams. Garrincha Adderly needed a sponsor for a new group of talented young Griga ballers, and Evan X Hyde decided to take some of the Lake’s bright young players who were being gang-influenced, and place them in a disciplined, professional atmosphere. Seven young players from Lake I went to Garrincha’s training camp in Dangriga, joining ‘Rincha’s Griga players. And so was born, Grigamandala.
Amongst those seven Lake players was Anthony “Trigga” Adderly, son of James and therefore Garrincha’s nephew. Trigga Adderly was Evan X Hyde’s godson.
In 1999, the absolute darlings of Belize City football fans were the Kulture Yabra players, led by Tiliman Nunez, who was then at the peak of his superlative game, and Corozal’s Estevan “The Maestro” Hall. Grigamandala, however, defeated Kulture to reach the national championship finals against the Independence village team, Sagitun. In the third and rubber playoff game, played at the neutral site of Belize City’s MCC Grounds, Kremandala was disappointed to find that a large percentage of the City fans were with Sagitun. This was perhaps understandable, because the rivalry between Kulture Yabra and Grigamandala had become very bitter in the second half of the season after an ugly gambling dispute.
After losing to Sagitun, Kremandala withdrew from football. It had been very expensive to transport and train Belize City players in Dangriga. More important, Belize City fans did not seem to understand that the Grigamandala process was more than about football: it was about life preservation.
The shooting death of Trigga Adderly a couple years after Grigamandala, underlined the fact that Grigamandala had failed to achieve its most important objective. There are things going on in Belize City which are difficult to explain to Belize City people themselves, much less outsiders. The remarks made by new Minister of Police, Senator Doug Singh, in the immediate aftermath of the sensational Andre Trapp slaying last Thursday morning, indicate that he is a rookie where the Southside realities on the ground are concerned. We wish Hon. Singh the best, all Belizeans do, but there is no advice that he can give Southside residents. They are living in a war zone, and he is not.
Dre Trapp, 24, had become very big, much bigger than anyone knew, except the underworld and the police. In fact, it may be that his is the most stunning gangland assassination since that of Derek “Itza” Brown in the early months of 1992. And, Belize City is so small that it is only an unsurprising coincidence: Itza Brown and Tiliman Nunez were half-brothers.
In 1992, the gang landscape in Belize City was almost completely bipolar – Crips and Bloods, imports from Los Angeles. The gangs have splintered in all kinds of ways since then. It’s hard to keep up with who is who and who has whose back. The thing is that the violence is much worse in 2010. By now, we all know that prayers are not the answer. But, there are people who make money praying and encouraging prayers, so they will never admit that this is otherwise from a religious problem. Young gangsters will not accept Jesus, because the oligarchs they believe are their enemies appear to be embracing Him, if only rhetorically, so closely.
In 1969, they said it was not an ethnic problem, because racism did not exist in Belize. In 1999, they said it was not a Southside problem, because there was no difference between the Northside and the Southside. In 2010, they say the youth now should love the blonde haired/blue-eyed Jesus. Keep on talking, why don’t you? Keep on talking.