He's Belize's most accomplished author, and Godfrey Smith is getting ready to launch his fifth book in a week's time.
It's called "Diary of a Recovering Politician" and is a collection of essays penned between 2008 - when he ended his political career - and 2022, when he's returned to his law practice after a stint being a judge in the Eastern Caribbean.
Smith spoke with Jules Vasquez a few weeks ago about the book - and the first thing that caught our eye was the cover, a sharp departure from his previous ones - and a suggestion of the weary road trod by politicians:
"And on the cover, it intrigues, because it looks like a ghoul, a blood-stained ghoul, that's what I see with a sight or a machete blade for his tie. It looks like somebody who's been blooded and butchered in the battles of the various flags or the garlands around. What did you want the cover of the book to evoke?"
Godfrey Smith, Author, Diary of a Recovering Politician
"All I said to her was I wanted to capture the mood of hopelessness, of destitution, of loneliness - that must plague somebody who is recovering from politics, a political wasteland. Isn't what politicians are at the end of the day blood stained ghouls? (laughing)."
"What I find as I go through life at age 54 now is that whether you're talking about law and the legal system or politics and the political system or the judicial system, they are all manmade structures and I find as I go through life, they're design to shore up the establishment, the elite. These systems aren't catering for ordinary folks to access the legal system properly the way others do. It supposed to be about the litigants who come into court, but often times they are the least regarded, in terms of being able to address the court and so on. So, in terms of my evolution I supposed it's been a tremendous learning experience. I'm dissolution with politics as a tool for bring about genuine change, but I've learned tremendously from it. It's been a hell of a learning experience the time I spent in politics."
"I've grown and learnt from the various journeys through these various fields, but it doesn't leave me feeling full of hope. Quite the opposite in fact."
"Are you in a sense turning on your own by saying, mek ah really explain to unu weh di goahn ina dis room?"
"No, I don't see it as turning on your own, because I think what said in the essay, I don't think it really surprises or shocks anyone."
"I don't think people have a sense of the absurdity that you communicate. You write that I would sometimes catch myself thinking, usually when some absurd policy was being discussed - we are the people running the entire country and what you portray here is just a little shambolic affair, bwai, will do this and that - waste of time."
"Well, I think people should know that. I think people should know that the cabinet of Belize and I'm talking about whichever government is just a group of men and women who perhaps too often take themselves too seriously."
"And ask that we take them seriously as well."
"And who perhaps don't remind themselves sufficiently enough that we are the people running the entire country, therefore, let us pause, let that immense responsibility seep into us and listen to others and study harder and plan harder and work harder, because this is where the buck stops. I don't think sufficient regard is paid to that."
"The government you were in at the time was elected on a mandate to build 10,000 homes and create 20,000 jobs. You write in there, there was never any discussion in cabinet about how many houses the ministry if housing could actually deliver on, which constituencies most needed them and how they would be distributed. You later write that the same applied for jobs. There was no follow up. But what you are writing about that will surprise people is a core disorientation from the strategy, that you have the manifesto in the middle of the cabinet table, as you described it, but nobody is paying that no mind. Mr. Smith, people will find that shocking."
"Well, I don't know that they really will. I mean, I think intuitively they don't trust. They know that politicians aren't serious. Let me just say this, it's not that people around the cabinet table are not concern with delivering on manifesto promises, it comes up, but it needs to come up in a sustain persistent planned way. You can't just raise it at one meeting and complain and lament and you know 'we have to do something.'"
"Total lack of a unified and coherent strategy."
"That's the thing. That's what I found was missing."
That is part one of our interview with Smith, tune in tomorrow for more.