Features — 07 September 2019 — by Colin Hyde
We know September is here because the kwaarils done begin

September in Belize is supposed to be a time of unity, and the story we have is that, except for 1919 and 1934 when there was major unrest, it was that way after we began to celebrate the Centenary in 1898. It was shoulder-to-shoulder in our Septembers up until 1950, when we began to take charge of our destiny. Then, our Septembers became like June 1797, when there was that explosive vote that gave the first birth to our nation.

If the present says anything about the past, you have to feel that after the vote was taken, some philistines for “pick up your things and run from Spain” said: this noh done ya. Hart Tillett, in his historical novel, Exiles No More, did a great job elaborating on how the non-black side of our ancestry arrived at the monumental decision to stay, and his other historical novel, Reef A-fire, did an equally good job telling how they came together to defend against the invader.

The settlers had British roots, but the English weren’t really the leaders here. It has been opined that the decision to stand ground against the faysi, greedy Spaniards, was entirely the settlers’ choice. Around that time the British had many things on their mind and we were not the most important. The British would come a few years after 1798 and sign another paper treaty with Spain.

The British and the Spanish both knew that the Spanish were playing games. The Spanish empire was finished. Britannia ruled the waves and in this part of the world the new threat to their hegemony was the upstarts from their former colony, the Americans.

In Hart Tillett’s historical novels, it is fresh blood from the losing side in the American War of Independence, who came here and made a difference. After the Americans, aided by the rest of the world, won their independence from the British, in 1783, many loyalists, people who were loyal to the British Crown, settled in different parts of the Americas, some here.

If the present tells anything about the past, the British always had their eyes on Belize, and with their pending departure from the European Union they are emphasizing their bonds with us and the Caribbean. We can both grow from these strengthening ties.

The story is that the true purpose of the Centenary celebrations begun on September 10, 1898, one hundred years after the battle, was to diffuse energies that were aiming to commemorate Emancipation Day in Belize. Our colonial masters rushed, the story says, to stoke the fires around the September 10 battle. The colonial masters won the day (philistines would say, AGAIN) and for fifty years there was unity in the land, until the philistines produced a hero who used momentum from the cry “save wi dala”, to rain on the 10th parade.

That philistine’s name was George Cadle Price, and the fuel he hib on the fire has it burning to this day. George Price founded an unnamed group, The Mythers, and some of the prime adherents to this divisive philosophy are one Assad Shoman, one Richard Bradley, and one Clinton Canul Luna. Price did not live to see what his laborers would wreak on our noble shores, but many have lived to see two of the three utterly, totally disgraced.

Assad Shoman, a Myther, negotiated a non-military solution to the Guatemala problem. José Luis Mendoza, of “White Book” infamy, would have said of Assad, he’s got some phenotype but he doesn’t have the mettle of a true Spaniard. The man’s an O’Neil, and thanks to him all our plots to fight those bohgaz for over a century, from the western front, was lost when they slipped out under the cover of the UN.

We could find or resurrect Mendoza and remind him that there was a Battle of Labouring Creek, but we’ll not be diverted from raining scorn on Assad, the divider. If he was in on the decision of 1797 there is no doubt that he would have been among the weasels who voted to cut and run.

We have lived to see Richard Bradley, the Mythist, bane of the heroes and heroines of the Loyal and Patriotic Order of the Baymen, bring shame upon himself at the Sarstoon. The Guatemalan military, GAF, was all around, taking control of our river, but Bradley did not go there to fight. I heard that he was not on any of the boats that faced down the enemy. The 2 plus 2 is that if he were on the wharf when our heroes were boarding the Teaser, the Tickler, the HMS Merlin, and the rafts to go out and drive back the tyrants, he would have told Barrow or Moss that he forgot his pohkonoh bwai stik, so he had to stay on shore.

As night follows day, Clinton Canul Luna will get his Sunday. We will wait, and one day the government will give him a ceremonial title or something that he will not be able to resist. I will say he is set in his stubborn ways, but he is under scrutiny.

Whoa, I just read his column, “Que Viva Marcus Canul”, in the Tuesday Amandala. Seriously, I don’t know the philistine in Belize who doesn’t embrace the memory of Canul. I believe in forgiveness, not because I want to, but because I believe it is best for the next generation. I pray the Canulistas will find it in their hearts to forgive.

By the way, 6’s & 7’s business, it is not impossible that this corner has more Canul in his blood than Canul Luna has in his. That’s the story of Belize – we have the blood of many tribes flowing in our veins.

Boo hoo, the Baymen’s clan is also falling apart, only partly because of the relentless assault. The troubles worsened at a Queen of the Bay contest, and the coup was complete when our most exciting successor decided to become rich. Stop throwing eggs at traitors and give them back the money, Shar. The poet guy was high on the list, had some potential for leadership, but he appears altogether too weak around the sweet flesh from the other side. And of course, everybody’s darling, the wonderful Miss Emma, is not getting any younger. It is no wonder that we limped into this September, discombobulated, unfocused, in disarray.

But it is September, the month of division, and it will not go quietly. Those of us who were sleeping got jolted awake when the first public quarrel erupted at the carnival competition. It’s celebration time, but oh the divisions. I can’t believe that the carnival people so teef that they would hambug one of the competitors by playing the wrong music for their performance. It wasn’t anything as bad as a dirge for a march, like how George Price said some unenthusiastic people sang our anthem, but it was enough to throw people out of their dance step. The chairman of the committee said it was an error, not subterfuge. I hope there won’t be a lawsuit.

We didn’t hear a peep from the Queen of the Bay competition, anything like a dispute, and we must give a sigh of relief for that. There is nothing that can cause a spike in temperature as fast as a beauty competition. That Miss Universe host, Steve Harvey, doesn’t know how lucky he was that he didn’t get killed when he called the wrong winner in that beauty competition.

He would have been more cautious if he had listened to Mighty Sparrow sing, Bongo, a song about a too-hot-to-handle dance competition … Priscilla come from overseas, Grenada bongo champ, but bwai this gyal Matilda is the favorite in the camp, Jump up one puh tuh doo, shake up more, an if they say she beat you, it’s war …

Some judges escape getting stoned if the winner is the overwhelming choice of the crowd. They dare not go against the grain. There will be people who are disappointed, and if they have sufficient backing ih noh done deh. Oh no, not everybody will be satisfied. In multi-color Belize we have many different ideas about good looks, so we are not doing a favor to unity with beauty contests.

No one has ever asked me to be a juror, a Justice of the Peace, or a judge for a beauty pageant. I am not eager to be a juror, I would refuse a JP because they have ehm, insulted me for far too long, and I would never be a judge at a beauty pageant. I think that if our women persist in holding these competitions, they should judge the show themselves.

My younger brother told me that in Navajo land the competition for the girls is all cultural. One of the skills a young girl must display is skinning a sheep. Raising sheep has been one of the biggest economic activities for the Navajo for generations. I bet the girls also have to show their dexterity in weaving cloth, and doing other crafts too. I like that and I believe you like that too.

If we persist we should take much of the subjectivity out of the competition so it isn’t so divisive, especially at a time when we should be all about unity, and it is so difficult. A history/civics competition would be good. Curtsies are a big thing, so the girl who could hold the longest pose should get some points. There could be a costume competition too. Any quarrel over that would be among the seamstresses, not the girls on the big night. There has to be dancing, but that could be a group show and the girls would all get the same points.

Boy, it’s September celebrations time. All kind a kwaaril wahn di brok out.

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Deshawn Swasey

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