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Friday, September 17, 2021
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Vamos, Compadre!

I must have heard area representatives at the House of Representatives say like a hundred times that they wish us a happy September celebrations and happy 40th independence anniversary, and not once did I hear any of them, not on the PUP side, not on the UDP side, say they wish all of us a Happy 10th of September celebrations! Well, it looks like the battle has been completely won by George Price and his three philistines — Assad, Diki, and Brother Clinton!

Well, Brother Hart, and Miss Emma, it looks like it’s all a Kriol thing now. No one has to tell us that our enslaved African ancestors weren’t all that excited about fighting, but they did. Ah, the muddy-white Kriols, most of them now categorize themselves as Mestizo, and those who still hold on to their little drop of African blood, dehn tu shame to identify wid we since the wikid bohgaz called our day a myth. Other brothers and sisters of ours, they celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day, Día de la Raza, Emancipation Day, and we see Chinese Dragons, Indian festival of lights replacing who-seh-me-seh, and the sometimes not-so-decent Carnival. And we happy fu all of them!

Bah, it’s only we, the half-mek brown Kriol, left to hold up the glory. We celebrate wid everybody, every breed of Belizean, but on the 10th, which was our national day because that’s when we told Spain, enough, no more, ungrateful philistines have said they will have nothing to do wid Bayman.

But, we take what we get in this world, and what we’ve got, hip, hip hurray, is nothing to sneeze at. We’ve got the music, from “Abel’s March” to “Symbol of Love” to “My Homeland by the Sea”, and we’ve got an unbroken line of queens from 1946 – thank you, Mr. Metzgen and Miss Emma– and we’ve got an entire arsenal of pokono bwai stiks, all sharpened and dipped in the bile of the crocodile. We’ve got legacy, and while they, the philistines, have made the weak and confused fall away, we the remnant, just like on that defiant first day in June 1797 when we said “Exiles No More”, are not letting go.

Fidel Castro, with a band of 18, rescued Cuba from the tyranny of a dictator, so we have faith in our numbers, faith because September 10th is a glorious day in the history of this nation. It is like the parting of the Red Sea, it is like a hurricane dissipating at sea, it is a battle like no other. Why should we be made to feel ashamed because with great strategy our Bayman forefathers steered the enemy ships into the reef? What bloodthirsty philistines these bohgaz are to not be satisfied with a victory because there is no blood and gore in it!

We Kriols, we glory in the triumphant days of all our tribes. The 10th is a glorious day for all of us, and even if you have swallowed the propaganda that it is a Kriol people day, come and join wid wi. Do, and one day you will get the sense and share in the full glory too. Hip, hip! Hurray!

Not Elodio

In Still Waters, which I finished — pages 101 to 186, and notes, one siddong — Lady Kathy Esquivel, writing on the most shocking election result in our history, in 1993, which incidentally followed immediately after the then most shocking general election result in our history, 1989, gave a number of explanations about all that happened leading up to comeuppance for a PUP government that was on a wild spending spree on some high-priced Italian projects.

Hmm, I’ll have to give much more of my ink to Still Waters, and on that, for now I’ll just say that the book, even minus some necessary tuning, is a dynamite contribution to all of us who love all of Belize.

That said, on the lead-up to the 1993 general election, the author didn’t mention the tremendous work of Godwin Hulse and Russell Vellos on Krem, how every Tuesday night they lambasted the PUP for their failure to “account for the money”, and she didn’t mention the British deciding that they would be cutting their forces in Belize, ehm, just before the polls opened.

Anyway, there was this coming together, this mending of fences by the UDP and the NABR to fight a common enemy, and there was this hurried slate to cover all 29 divisions. Mrs. Kathy says both parties understood they didn’t have time to consolidate their positions, and an uneasy compromise was bolstered by the players having spent “too many years in the wilderness of perpetual Opposition…” Lady Kathy says what tipped the scales in the UDP/NABR’s favor was their offer of free education.

Speaking on their preparations, the author says all that had been done “might still have been insufficient without the brilliant idea of offering ‘Free Education’. Manuel believes the idea originated with Elodio Aragon, his former Minister of Education…”

Long years ago, the author of that wicked “Free Education” promise told me how it came about. The author, a young man then, was partial to PSWG and a good friend of Melvin Hulse, Sr., and at a house in Belmopan they entertained Sir Manuel, who lamented that they didn’t have a manifesto to contest the snap election that had been called by the devil PUP, and that D Barrow expressed no interest in doing so. I expect D Barrow said, about the futility of the race, that they “didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.”

Anyway, bap, bap, the young man ups and offered to do the honors, and a couple or three days later Sir Manuel had the document of promises in hand to present to the nation. Ah, Sir Manuel asked the young man how the party could ever deliver on such a promise, “free education”, and the young man replied, why worry about that, you are going to lose anyway.

Of course, this explains the second UDP term, why so many things went wrong. The party in government did no planning to serve Belize between 1993 -1998.

How Henry Young pumped up the 10th (contributed)

Musings of an octogenarian – The usually celebratory season is once again upon us. This year however, we once again do so with the oppressive cloud of the Covid-19 pandemic upon us and indeed the world. But as all things, this too will pass.

As we remain at home and try to muster as much of the celebratory spirit as we possibly can, given the restrictions in gatherings and movement, I thought it an interesting idea to seek out one man to at least give us a quick look back at what the 10th Celebration was back in the good old days.

I made a midday appointment (lunch was expected), with one of the veteran progenitors of the 10th Celebration as we know it – Henry Young. I sat under the canopy of a newly constructed thatched shed at Bird’s Isle in Belize City in the company of two other of his guests. I had barely taken a seat when Pa Hen, as he is affectionately known, made his way to where we were seated. His gait at the age of 85 was something to marvel at. He moved seamlessly along the concrete path to where we were seated.

One conversation led to the next, and like most things for Pa-Hen these days, it centered around Bird’s Isle. From the angle where he sat, he could see the basketball court and the topic of the Queen of the Bay came up. He mused about this and that…remembering that we were at the end of August and flowing therein was the celebration month, I stopped him as he said, “I dah di one weh start put band pah truck-back”.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on, how that happen?” I queried.

In the midst of his earlier conversations, I gleaned that he had been in the U.S. for quite some time and on returning back home, he maintained some strong ties and communication with people in the U.S. Of course he kept informed of ‘new developments’. One of those was the availability of portable generators. Pa Hen’s eyes sparkled and his signature smile which is not much of a smile but some facial indication of satisfaction with himself and his accomplishments graced his face and he said: “Yes man, I mi know that deh had deh lee small generators dah States and I order three ah them.”

He could not fix an exact date, he simply could not recall what year it was but after some questioning to jolt his mind, he said it must have been sometime in the mid 70’s when that great innovative idea, a novel one, had come to him. The portable generator was at the center of it all.

From there Pa Hen engaged in the promotion of it all, the Mighty Lord Rhaburn, The Professionals and the Harmonettes would all be in the 10th Parade that year, entertaining the crowd as it snaked its way through the streets of Belize City to culminate, again, at Bird’s Isle.

Now in order to appreciate the grandeur of the enterprise, we need to place ourselves in that time period – the mid 70s. While the parades were great, we need to remember that any music provided was done so by marching bands. Lively though they may have been, they definitely weren’t anything in comparison to Lord Rhaburn, the Professionals or the Harmonettes.

The word spread and kept on spreading and the marvel of it all was being questioned as the 10th day approached. Everyone knew that electricity would be needed in order to power such an endeavor and there was one postulator that told Pa Hen, “You wah have wah long extension, chu? And you wah plug in pah di lamp posts when the parade stops, chu?”

Pa-Hen said he simply smiled it off. His grand presentation was to be revealed only on the 10th day and so it was that he tested his idea almost at the time of execution and it worked brilliantly. Music on a truck! The generators kicked into action and the rest is history.

The 10th Parade took off from Memorial Park and by the time it reached in front of the post office, live music was blaring from the back of a truck. Lord Rhaburn and the other bands were on it. As it moved along, bystanders were in awe but that was quickly overtaken by celebration. They jumped behind the bands, moved along with the truck. They gyrated and enjoyed. The Jump-Up on the 10th was Born!

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