In 98 Anno Domini
“Among the ideas of Toynbee which influenced the Milner Group we should mention three: (a) a conviction that the history of the British Empire represents the unfolding of a great moral idea – the idea of freedom – and that the unity of the Empire could best be preserved by the cement of this idea; (b) a conviction that the first call on the attention of any man should be a sense of duty and obligation to serve the state; and (c) a feeling of the necessity to do social service work (especially educational work) among the working classes of English society.”
- pg. 10, THE ANGLO-AMERICAN ESTABLISHMENT, by Carroll Quigley, GSG & Associates, 1981
We understand the need by some important people in powerful places to protect the British-ness of Belize’s history, particularly at this specific time of the Tenth of September (Battle of St. George’s Caye) celebrations.
At this newspaper, we do not feel it is our responsibility to disrespect the British aspect of the settlement’s history, but Belize is no longer a British colony, has not been so for thirty years, and it has appeared to us that we have different population strands which have to be tied into a single national rope. That would be if the socio-political leaders of Belize are really serious about this nation-building proposition.
Of the British Caribbean possessions we know, the only one which did not choose to go the way of political independence was Bermuda. Today, Bermuda, which remained a British colony, may be the most peaceful and prosperous of the former British colonies in the Western Hemisphere.
It is tricky to describe Bermuda as Caribbean, because she is way up north in the Atlantic near the northeast coast of the United States. But, for sure Bermuda is British, and being British appears to have worked for Bermuda. There is no agitation that we know of among Bermuda’s citizens to become independent.
It is not necessarily the fact that it was remaining British which has made Bermuda’s situation more prosperous and stable than Belize’s. There are other factors which are involved here. Significantly, there is no claim, such as the Guatemalan claim to Belize, on Bermuda’s land and sea. Again, the population of Bermuda is pretty much the way the population of British Honduras used to be – majority black, with an elite, lighter-skinned class. Bermuda has no known oil fields. All Bermuda is, is a tourism island.
Belize has much more potential than Bermuda. The people of Belize decided more than six decades ago that they wished to be independent of Great Britain and to run our own affairs. We achieved our objective in 1981. Thirty years later, we can say that things are not going very well in Belize: they are not going well at all.
When we say things are not going well, we are speaking of the base of the sociological pyramid. Our young men have, in frustration and ignorance, turned against each other with murderous and increasing violence. But this frightening violence is confined to specific areas of the Southside of the old capital. Just two or three short blocks away from the violence, wealthy banks, wealthy insurance companies and wealthy law firms/offshore banks line Albert and Regent Streets. But, for Wagner’s Lane, Rocky Road, George Street, Taylor’s Alley – it’s a case of no money, hot lead, funeral after funeral, jail cell after jail cell.
Important people in powerful places in Belize behave as if what’s happening on the Southside with young black people isn’t happening at all. Those important people in powerful places insist that 98 Anno Domini is where it’s at. Those of us who thought in 1969 that black people had a future in Belize, are confused in 2011. Why is 98 Anno Domini so good for us when everything else is looking so bad?
These are deadly times on the Southside streets. Important people in powerful places decided that old St. George’s Caye is key, the centerpiece to the September process. These are people, it appears to us, who would be happy in Bermuda. On St. George’s Caye, you see, they are escaping from the reality of suffering black people. On St. George’s Caye, you can be British for a day. Good for you.