Social media erupted late last week when news of the 2022 trade license and its associated entertainment fees came to public attention.

Since then artists and entertainers have made their opinions known and some of those entertainers took their complaints all the way to a House Committee meeting to explain why the proposed tax wasn't something that their fledgling industry could afford.

And this morning those artists learned that their voices had been heard. A Cabinet brief released today May 26th 2022 announced the decision saying quote: "Noting the fragile state of the entertainment industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Cabinet agreed to defer any fee for local entertainers while consultations continue with stakeholders in the entertainment industry. In addition, Cabinet will consult to develop incentives for the creative sector."

Those words sounded like a victory for the artists, entertainers, and industry stakeholders who'd made their voices heard, among them Musa Shaheed a young creole drummer known for being outspoken and opinionated.

This afternoon 7News headed to his Belize City studio to get his opinion on the government's choice to stand down from taxation on his sector:

You saw him on Jules Vasquez UNCUT last week where he told us about sacrificing revenue to be true to his own musical culture

Jules Vasquez
"I want to ask something important because of of you are in sort of a cultural trap. You're in a culture that there is an active erasure of the Creole culture in Belize."


Musa Abdul Shaheed - Artist
"That's why I can't quite."

Jules Vasquez
"Exactly, you're keeping the fire burning because they are trying to put out the fire."


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"For me, I would rather prefer if I was Garifuna right now, you want to know why? Because this hurts my personal gain, I sacrifice..."

Jules Vasquez
"It hurts it by..."


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Representing Creole culture that is dying."


Jules Vasquez
"It's dying because people are trying to erase it."

And you saw him again at Monday's house committee meeting when he insisted that G.O.B. can't tax an industry that doesn't exist.

Musa Abdul Shaheed
"But you can't put a tax on someone who is performing two or three times for the year."

And today after, the Cabinet decision on the 2022 Trade license Act Musa gave us this reaction:



Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Well, first of all, I have to say thank you, thank you to them for realizing it was a very huge hiccup on their part. At least their trying nothing beats a try and I'm not partial, previous governments I don't really have much good to say the current same thing so I'm not partial but at least this crew is tring to show a little bit of difference. Certain areas and that's why I say i'm not partial when wrong there is wrong where there's right it is right. They're trying to right some wrongs while doing a ton of wrongs so I mean they are trying the try and I think it's up to us the people to really be more grounded in what we want and how we're gonna get it."

And, there is a lesson in this for the community of creatives: that power concedes nothing without a demand:

Cherisse Halsall
"What have you learned about speaking out against systems of power?"


Musa Abdul Shaheed
"Only good could come out of it. Every man has a right to decide his own destiny and in this judgement meaning, this reality that we live in there is no partiality, none. So if you're going to be scared to remove a brick and a bridle and speak up in the face of oppression then that is your fault."

But with the entertainers' tax defeated, what's Next for Musa Shaheed?

Musa Shaheed
"We started a non-profit organization called Belize African connection. It's to foster and train young talents and our only age restriction is toddlers obviously there is no restriction other than that age restriction 6 years and over we are training them in the Non-profit organization. We have our studio Belize African connection entertainment and recording studio. Our plan at back entertainment is to basically foster a new generation of talents, professional talents first of all addressing attitudes because if you have a bad attitude your not mix it up with the world genres."

Among Musa's ideas is a TV show entitled "Pardon my Creole", as well as training and cultural awareness for youths, and an artist spotlight show.

Channel 7