By Wellington C. Ramos
When the Europeans travelled from Europe to other parts of the world, their main objective was to slaughter the native people they found in those nations and take away their territories from them. These activities were taking place for centuries and were later titled – Colonialism beginning in the 1400s when Columbus landed in the Caribbean in 1492.
As a result of Colonialism, there was a need for labour, so they instituted slavery against the native people that survived their genocide, brought some of their people from Europe who they colonized and then finally forcefully brought various ethnic groups from the continent of Africa to be their permanent slaves.
Colonialism and slavery are two inhumane acts that are classified as crimes against humanity and Genocide.
Yet, they brought missionaries with them from the Catholic, Protestant and other churches, to tell the world that they are Christians who will be teaching Christianity to the indigenous people they labelled as uncivilized and pagans. They described themselves as Christians even though their deeds and actions were evil. Colonialism lasted for many centuries and there are still a few nations in the world, that are still being colonized by some European countries.
The anti-colonialism movement began after World War II when many veterans returned to their respective countries and saw the need to become independent from their colonial masters. They asked themselves; Why are we fighting for our colonial masters to gain additional nations and territories, when we ourselves are subjugated by them?
This was the fundamental question along with other issues, that gave rise to the independence movement. However, in their countries, they faced rejection from their own because of the years of the Colonialists, indoctrinating their family members and fellow citizens received from their colonial masters.
This is the same experience the Maya and Garifuna people, will and are experiencing in Belize and the other countries, where they reside with their struggle to regain and retain their lands.
The best way to deal with this problem is to re-educate our people and tell them the true story of our lives before the Europeans came during the pre-colonial era. When we, the Garifuna people obtained our independence from Great Britain and Spain in the countries where we reside today, some of the people who were left to manage the affairs of these countries, were still loyal to their French, British and Spanish colonial masters.
Their attitudes towards we the Garifuna people are similar and sometimes worse than the colonial masters themselves.
Another problem that we the Garifuna and Maya people are facing is to confront our own families and people, who will and have placed their individual interests and greed, over the collective interests of all of our people and nation. These individuals will do any and everything in their power, to stop their people from getting what belongs to them. I cannot comprehend this irrational behaviour and lack of judgment on their part.
Little do these people realize, that whatever they are accepting from our enemies, will only last for a little while; and when they depart this planet earth, their people will be suffering at the hands of their colonial and neocolonialist masters.
My humble advice is for us to pray to our ancestors and the Almighty Father to assist us in our struggle. This fight is a worthy fight for our people and for future generations to come. If we do not commit ourselves to stand up and fight for what is ours now, we will leave this burden on our children and grandchildren to fight for decades to come.
Many of our people have died and did not get to enjoy a piece of lot or land for themselves from the mass reserves we currently own in all the countries where we live today. The politicians, their families, friends, people from the neighbouring countries and business people with their money from around the world, are being given leases and titles to our lands while we are being denied daily. They are even setting up Gated Communities that deprives us of the use of the beaches, rivers, lakes forest and other natural areas that we need to survive as a people.
The Garifuna Nation is in support of all citizens getting a piece of land from their governments, building their homes for their families and doing farming to feed themselves. There is more than enough lands apart from the Garifuna and Maya lands, to give all the people in the countries where we live today.
Please encourage all of your family members and friends to join the Garifuna Nation in our quest, to assert and regain our rights to our lands in all the countries where we reside, so that we can distribute to our people.