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The National Perspective

My beloved Belize is set to become 39 years old tomorrow, of which two decades and a trinity I have been alive for. I have gotten the distinction of never being a British subject, my mother and her mother cannot claim the same. As I sit in a room with my Garinagu brother Wasani as we travel to study at the University, I am three years his senior, I am thinking as I am every year about how far we have come as a politically independent state. Where has the time gone, what is the National Perspective and the lens through which we will be required to look beyond the Horizon of a pandemic that has made practical the Shock Doctrine? Rt. Hon. Said Musa is on my mind tonight, a man that has given Belize 46 years of his life in public life. A man whose son sits in parliament with him, a man who is the father of one of Belize’s greatest creative minds. Mr. Musa is a man who has no doubt met with triumph and disaster in his time as leader of this nation. I’ve never had a conversation with him and only listened to him speak once outside the house while I was attending Saint John’s College Junior College with his signature silver hair speaking to us in his signature tone and reminding us of the importance of service. My most dominant memory of him is from a sitting of the lower house, I believe it was the same day he abstained from voting on the referendum bill. I sat in the gallery behind the opposition for a bit on that day, watching as he flipped through the pages of his notes. I was impressed by his penmanship, impressed that he still wrote out all his notes with pen ink and then impressed by his diplomatic prowess when he finally stood up to make his contributions whether I agreed with them or not. Forty-six years is two lifetimes for me and despite orbiting the dialectic nature of Belizean politics there is something to say thanks for. As I endearingly wrote Evan X Hyde on the half-century anniversary of his and Ismail Shabazz’s sedition trial this year, the dues have been paid and I do hope he takes time to smell the roses. I do hope he writes a biography, his legacy is important patchwork in Belize’s identity.

I am thinking of the frequency modulation of 2000 plus 20 Belize. Have we successfully impressed the wave of liberation into the minds and hearts of born Belizeans and those who have transitioned into Belizean identity? What is the Belizean identity? What were the hopes and dreams of the 1981 21-year-old? I listened to the Bocas Lit Fest earlier in the day and was wildly impressed by presentation ‘A Question of Leadership’ on the backdrop of literary works by panellists former Prime Minister of Jamaica- PJ Patterson, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belize- Godfrey Smith and Professor at University of Toronto Alissa Trotz. The three delved into the topic of contemporary Caribbean leadership with ease and visceral nature that I have never experienced, dissecting and consolidating history and history in the making of the Global South Caribbean. Our history interrupted and stunted by that of genocide-fueled colonialist leaving behind the residuals of neocolonialism that we are still struggling with navigating today. You see, our Independence is often romanticized and encapsulated, somewhat incomplete as if that was the only thing happening in 1981. Our Independence came at the height of the Grenadian revolution, two years later Maurice Bishop was killed. Ronald Reagan was president of the United States and that same year someone tried to assassinate him. Margaret Thatcher became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979, Europe’s first female prime minister. Jamaica had just had a spate of violent elections. Walter Rodney was killed in 1980 in Georgetown, Guyana. I can go on and on with this and here is little Belize thinking or at least promoting a thwarted reality that we are so blessed to be mother natures best-kept secret. “Coincidence? The universe is rarely ever that lazy.” We often tout our badge of honour of having a peaceful and constructive revolution that lead to our independence but I don’t think we can claim a non-violent history. The fairy tale story of Belize’s becoming has to be deromanticized for us to achieve true consciousness-raising. I believe a famous writer calls it a decolonializing of thought.  The debt we have had to pay because of this colonial narrative had been exponential and moving it our 40th year of Independence in 2021, it is the only bill that must be killed.

Independence Day Decor at Pandy’s Barber Shop in Belize City

Belize is much to unpack on the eve of our Independence and so I consoled myself by watching episodes of the United Kingdom’s ‘Yes, Prime Minister.’ Happy Independence Day to my home, my heart, Belize!

We can’t be content to carry on the business in our countries based on relationships which were determined in the past in which we had no involvement in which we could not participate.

PJ Patterson, Bocas Lit Fest 2020
Written on Independence Day Eve, September 20 2020.

Published by Dominique Noralez

Spirit. Human. Belizean. Black. Wombmxn. Agape Tributary. Youth Leader.

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