Letter: Apartheid in Belize

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Dear Sir:

In 2018, contemplating the future of African descendants born in Belize should no longer be conversation, as it still is in Belize during this decade of African descendants. Come join us at the Belize Liberty Hall as we address this issue among others starting at the gathering January 27, 2019.

How do we develop and strengthen individual, national, and international identity? How do we connect an individual, national and regional agenda to the Diaspora race first agenda? At the same time, the question must be asked as to why the black population of 90 percent 100 years ago is/has steadily reduced; now being 41.6 percent in 2018? Let’s try to answer these and other questions important to preserving the Belize patrimony.

While some of us are asleep some of us are working each day to connect African descendants born in Belize to the world-wide African Diaspora families’ social, cultural, economic and environmental infrastructure to improve the condition in the lives of the Belizean black man and woman.

The saying, “A prophet is not acknowledged by his own people”, holds true. It holds true of Michael Flores founder of the Garifuna Republic, Emerson Guild, former secretary for education and research for the Central American Black Organization and Stephen Okeke, serial enterprise consultant and sculptor, the latter being two of my teachers who have been working in the trenches for well over three decades preaching self-reliance for the liberation of blacks in Belize.

Both have achieved success that transcends our borders; Michael is an award winning documentary and film producer, Steven is a writer and sculptor and Emerson, who is an unyielding Marcus Garvey disciple, are all vilified by the very people and system they work tirelessly to improve, all because Africans and African descendants in Belize like many abroad do not value their own or themselves.

The dilemma that blacks face in this country and beyond its borders is the lack of biographical matter on our heroes and sheroes. Who/where are the biographers telling our story to our children and young people, stories of the works of Samuel Haynes, Vivian Seay, Isaiah Mortar, Cleopatra White, TV Ramos, Simon Lamb, and Antonio Soberanes? How many of our children today can answer questions on these people so critically important to their social, cultural and environmental preservation? Who knows that Vivian Seay was founder of a political party called “National Party”? The name National Party connotes that black people were active nationalist with a race first agenda in the 19th and 20th centuries.

What is also evident is that black women had a voice way before adult suffrage in Belize. Why is this story not a part of the social studies of Belize? The Black Cross Nurse started in 1919/1920, which has fallen asleep in 2016; after creating the country’s health system and social welfare system. The last declaration for the upliftment of African descendants programs was signed at Liberty Hall by UNIA-MIA and Black Cross Nurse representative in 2006. Is the UNIA-MIA and the Black Cross Nurse still fulfilling their pledge in 2018?

Unprepared Afro and indigenous Belizeans are struggling with revitalization and preservation of an African culture and identity in an era of technology that should be used to their benefit. In the prescription issued in the Durban Action Plan and now in the literature of the decade of African descendants, Afro Belize cannot continue to wait for the initiation of a positive initiative from the usual suspects for the already agreed actions written into a regional and worldwide Pan African mandates to improve our African and African descendants’ lives.

In Belize we have seen the development of partisan political red and blue agenda, (Crips and Bloods) garrisons spread all over in the 37 years of Belize’s independence. Have the conditions and livelihoods in these garrisons created by poverty now become the reason we are all being restricted? Is the check points and declaration of state of emergencies previews of what is to come?

At the Liberty Hall Community Resource Center there are brothers and sisters re-building that historic building and its programs as a safe space for a young adult to study and connect to his/her story of a rich Afro Belizean history, culture and identity. We have made linkages in the Diaspora that are vital for our children and young adults to be educated and trained in social, economic and environmental sciences that preserves their rich African heritage in the 21st century.

Iddris Sandu was 16 years old and in high school when he developed mobile software that would later gain the attention of former US president Barack Obama and land him at the White House, where he received the honorary presidential scholar award. Dr Hadiyah Nicole Green dedicated herself to fighting cancer when her aunt and uncle – who raised her — both died from it. While working towards a doctorate degree in physics, Green began reading about how technology could be used to kill cancer cells. She then dedicated numerous years of her life towards hands-on work and research. The end result was the development of a laser technology using nano-particles that destroyed cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.

Our African contribution and geopolitical reality is documented by the United Nations this documentation says that African descendants’ history, culture, identity and natural resource, which is so vital to the world economy, is and has been under attack, many important African and African descendant leaders have been murdered to stop the Pan African Reparative Justice program to maintain the status quo.

Let’s look at the historic record of grassroots leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie, Julius Nyerere, Ahmed Sékou Touré, Kwame Nkrumah, Thomas Sankara, Muammar Gaddafi, Malcolm X. The work of academics such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Sheikh Antidiop, John Henrick Clarke and many others in the Diaspora were consistently undermined and neutralized all evidenced in the geopolitical economic deconstruction of the Pan African Independence movement worldwide but especially in Africa. On the ground in Belize what is visible is the subtle appearance of an apartheid state.

Why do I say this? Apartheid is defined as the restricting a people’s movement/development to maintain control. Is this what is unfolding before our very eyes in Belize? Why is the restrictions and unpreparedness of grassroots people important in this time? Why is the literacy of Belizeans falling with no end in sight? Why is Belize, the declared bread basket of this region, not feeding itself?

The social, cultural economic and environmental retardation must be almost complete because physical restriction in now visible, as is evidenced by check points on Central American Boulevard, Vernon Street entrance to Mayflower, George Street, Fear Weather Street Bridge, Bannock Street, entrance to Bridge and Mahogany Street, Ladyville, and Hattieville Road, coupled with the profiling of young black youth. What is going to happen next?

Are the African descendants born in Belize now irrelevant in the electoral process? Is the demographic shift in Belize caused by the migration of Salvadorian, Honduran, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan migrants coming to Belize now coming into play in Belizean politics? Is the Belize grassroots vote about to become irrelevant? Pay attention, Belizeans, your patrimony is in danger. What is the significance of these activities? Who is making these decisions?

Is the government of Belize in satisfying the structural adjustments of the international political economic system failing the African population of Belize? Is the Anglo-Guatemalan dispute now called the Belize-Guatemalan dispute only a distraction? Is there a political plan in place in our electoral process to declare Belize another failed state as was just done in Guyana? A prerequisite to an invasion by Guatemala, backed by the USA?

Belizeans must not wait for time to answer these questions, we must preserve ourselves now. It is Liberation Time!

Abdulmajeed K Nunez

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