As much as we cherish life when we are in our youth and in our prime, it is for sure that if we live long enough we begin to lose our relevance. In fact, if we live long enough we begin to lose our dignity, which is a human tragedy, from creation.
As a people, the superpower Americans appear to be terrified of aging. They spend a ton of money trying to fight off the inevitabilities of time: Americans, generally speaking, want to look and behave as young as they possibly can.
There are other “developed” cultures, such as Japan’s, where age is viewed as more of a blessing than a curse. In fact, most cultures which are not considered “developed,” hold their elders in esteem, for different reasons. One of these reasons is that people usually die younger in populations which are less wealthy: the wisdom of the aged is seen as valuable.
My father was not a heavy-handed parent. He gave his children space to grow, and I, as the eldest of his offspring, appreciated that. In turn, I tried to treat my children in the same way that my father had treated me.
As part of their strategy in trying to beat down the UBAD movement almost five decades ago, our opponents focused heavily as myself, as the leader. From a distance, you would have thought UBAD was a one man army, but it was not. In seeking to defend UBAD, and later Amandala and Kremandala, from the attacks of the power structure, I had to spend a lot of time explaining my personal odyssey. In so doing, the chances are that I aided and abetted our enemies in their quest to individualize processes which involved many other Belizeans of quality and ability.
Well, today what I want to say is that four of my eight children are employed with Kremandala. Three of them hold senior management positions. Jacinta has been running the newspaper since 2001; Michael has been running KREM Radio since the late 1990s; and Mose has been in charge of KREM TV ever since the television station began broadcasting in 2003. My children are all adults, and have been adults for a long time.
A while back, 10 or 15 years ago perhaps, I began to realize that there were differences in perspective amongst my children. I always did my best to balance things off, so to speak, and it was not always easy. Even though my reputation is that of a hands-on, assertive person, I am not, to repeat, a heavy-handed father.
I probably began to write this column in its present form in November of 1974, immediately after I had lost in the Collet constituency, as the only UBAD Party general election candidate, to the late Harry Courtenay (PUP) and Ken Tillett (UDP), after which we had decided to dissolve the rump UBAD, which had been divided since early 1973. My life was in crisis, and I had to reach out publicly to our supporters more than ever before. We’re talking almost 44 years ago.
As time went on, and we managed to put things in order, as it were, the newspaper became a success, especially in 1981 and afterwards. I always had to remain in contact, through this column, with our core support, because these were people who had laid the foundation which made our work possible.
My children do not know the history of Kremandala, certainly not the way I do, and so the focus on maintaining core support has been decreasing steadily in this third millennium. I suppose this is as it should be, because we cannot live in the past. Not only that, in these modern times it is difficult to keep up with the speed of technological innovation, which is more of a priority for today’s managers than recalling the adventures of the late Sixties and early Seventies.
The way Belize functions, in the daily reality of the roots people who have been our core support for almost a half a century, life is dominated by the two major political parties – UDP and PUP, and by the Christian churches which underpin the UDP/PUP and which control the primary and secondary schools. Belizeans who support us have always understood that ours was a minority process, in the larger scheme of things, but we and they believed that we had a special role to play. History will record, I submit, that UBAD and Kremandala have played that special role.
My column, then, is directed primarily to our core support, who have understood that it has been necessary on our part, from time to time, to make common cause with one of the major political parties in the interests of our self-preservation. In 1975, for instance, this newspaper made common cause with the ruling PUP. In 1981, events transpired which ended up driving us into an alliance with the Opposition UDP. Between 1987 and 1988, the ruling UDP and this newspaper began to feud. In 1994, Kremandala entered an alliance with the Opposition PUP. In 2004, there was a major upheaval within the ruling PUP which drove Kremandala into a form of isolation.
Through the decades, the key has always been that Kremandala, by and large, is able to survive independently of the major political parties because of the consistency of our core support. In this time of growing uncertainty and looming crisis in Belize, Kremandala is seeking to establish and maintain a position which is consistent with our roots history. At the same time, there are corporate considerations which we must respect if we are to fulfill our obligations to our employees. In pursuance of goals which can sometimes seem contradictory, the Kremandala managers will have to find a way to be faithful to our core philosophy while respecting present realities. Life is a struggle. There are no guarantees.
My conclusion is that I am personally not as relevant on Partridge Street as I have been in the past. The most important thing, moving forward, is that I will remain in contact, Inshallah, with our core supporters through the words and ideas which I share with you in this newspaper. Working together, we and our people, despite being a minority group, have accomplished much that is beneficial for Belizeans. Allah be praised.
Power to the people.