by Colin Hyde
As some of you know, I have written a few mischief novels (novellas), a childhood autobiography, and a booklet of poems, and I’ve been a regular in the pages of the Amandala for some time. I’ve always had fun putting my thoughts down on paper, but I stumbled on writing as a career after a few accidents in my life. I am recognized by our literary community, and it’s because of this recognition that I am included on the mailing list of Dr. Henry W. Anderson and his Jabiru Books Belize, which features books by Dr. Anderson and other writers in our country.
Alas, I cannot order anything that I find affordable at Jabiru Books Belize, because I don’t have a credit card — and I can’t get one either. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much of a record at the banks. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have the online literacy. Or maybe it’s the maze and blocks that have been set up because of money launderers in our midst. It hurts me financially. I tried to do some promotions internationally, with one of these book dealers, but I can’t access PayPal, and until I do that, that venture remains a dud. Ah, I have tried friendships, the few I have, but it’s not easy for my buddies to put themselves out of the way to facilitate me.
Dr. Anderson is no slouch. Among his numerous works is the book, Ode to the One-Eyed Lady, the story my dad said was the greatest ever about a hurricane. The following story was prompted by a piece I read in Jabiru Books Belize.
There’s a not-so-old village, Maya Mopan, in the Stann Creek District, a mile or so west of Georgetown. A little over two decades ago, I worked as a kind of “farm demonstrator” for the Pesticides Control Board, which is headquartered in Central Farm. My job was primarily to teach farmers about pesticides, how to use them safely and wisely. I’m at home with farmers and fisher folk, farming and fishing being two professions I’ve been involved in.
There was a sizable investment on a large parcel behind Maya Mopan, to the west and north of the village. To the south and west of Maya Mopan, the villagers had their parcels, which averaged between five and ten acres in size. These plots were planted out mainly to corn, plantains and ground food. In my discussions with farmers, many things came up. Some of the villagers expressed disappointment with the big development behind Maya Mopan. Some might not have liked what I thought about it. I told them that subsistence farmers couldn’t pay for the high school their children attended in Georgetown.
Whoa there, remember the time Said Musa said fu hihn people like good things? Well, it’s real. Some of you, like me, don’t give a blank about super yachts and such, but it is a fact that our children are being exposed to a world out there that is as alluring to them as a moth is to a flame. Ideally, the land behind Maya Mopan, which is deep and fertile, the kind of land that makes farmers drool, should have been owned, the bulk of it, by the farmers of the village. But not for subsistence farming, not if the national objective is to sustain the kind of life the majority of our people want.
I didn’t know any of the history behind the parcel west/north of Maya Mopan. The Jabiru Books Belize release had this clip: “A Story from Maya Mopan, Belize”, which it said had been excerpted from the “Maya Atlas. The Struggle to Preserve Maya Land in Southern Belize.”
“In 1984, an American missionary by the name of John Cullen came to the village of Maya Mopan and asked the people to join his church so that he could help them with their daily needs. He also requested 300 acres of land from the government, saying that it would be for the village, and asked the villagers to donate labor to plant fifty acres of citrus, so one day it will benefit the village. He also promised electricity and a hospital. The village gave him free labor, but in the end John Cullen never kept his promises. In 1996, a man named (name withheld) moved in and started to work the same land where the villagers gave their free labor for the citrus plantation. When the village council chairman asked (name withheld) if he knew what he was doing, (name withheld) said that he bought the land from John Cullen and nobody can stop him from working it.”
I don’t think my counsel would have been any different, had I been aware of this story. But, there would have been an addendum. If that Cullen story is true, what happened there was wrong. I will end this piece with this. I’m no capitalist, far from. I think I’m practical.
Mr. Gray in the news
Let me get this off right away. I don’t disagree with our media for going after Mr. Gray’s credentials. I think it was a little unfortunate that it was a group exercise. Really, only politicians deserve to be grilled that way. As for those who are attacking the mayor for honoring the brother with the keys to Belize City, let me say, start first with the mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Aha, is this a perfect marriage for a sister city relationship or what? The Belize City mayor, I’ve told you before that my observation of him is that he is a highly intelligent, hardworking guy with a big heart and big energy, a brother with capacity and integrity, the kind of talent that Belize doesn’t have that much of, but he is not from the world of words.
It is said by some that Mr. Gray claimed for jobs he didn’t do. If so, we know whom he took a page from. 500 sakin years the Europeans have claimed everything. They learned nothing from the black and brown peoples of the world. I really don’t want to waste much of my page on European ripoff today. Do you think any patent Mr. Gray applied for would have sailed through without crooks wanting to take a bite? People after money will steal the published word, so what do you think they will do with private information they get control of? There are grey areas here which we can leave for now.
It’s the mighty Roland Parks who introduced us to Andre. Mr. Parks is technologically savvy, so Gray’s work was right up his alley. I’m not aware of anyone in Belize commenting on Mr. Parks’ report in the Amandala of all the brave and brilliant things Andre was doing and had done. A few years later, I did a piece after an article I read in a Los Angeles magazine. The main angle from me was praise for his altruism. Many scientists have had their work stolen. I said the man was like Nikola Tesla, for his purity.
After my piece, I received, ehm, counsel, haha, that the man was a hoax. After I read it, I wrote this piece titled “Gray has to be mad”, which formed a part of my column which can be found in the January 5, 2022 online Amandala:
“So, the story is being whispered about that Andre Gray is mad under his hat. So what? You can’t name one senior inventor who hasn’t been questioned about the stability of the screws in their head. Wasn’t the most celebrated of them all, Nikola Tesla, labeled a lunatic? Of course he was, and the world has to be thankful for that, for minds that invent things can’t be confined to a box.
“The strangest of things is when a man isn’t bowled over by the opposite sex. Tesla wasn’t. There are only two types of men who are like that. One of them, it is too early for them to be getting any ink. The other kind, they have extraordinary minds, and they are on a mission to deliver to the world the gifts that God gave them. They will not be distracted. If Gray is a quarter of those things that they or he says he is, you bet his screws aren’t that tight up there.”