Front page of the February 7, 2017, edition
|Owner(s)||Kremandala Ltd. (Amandala Press)|
|Publisher||Evan X Hyde|
|Founded||13 August 1969|
(formerly United Black Association for Development)
|Headquarters||3304 Partridge Street, P.O. Box 15, Belize City, Belize, Central America|
Amandala is a Belizean tabloid newspaper; published twice weekly, it is considered the "most widely circulated newspaper in Belize". It was established on 13 August 1969 as the print organ of the now-defunct United Black Association for Development (UBAD), but has been politically independent since the mid-1970s. Its offices are located at 3304 Partridge Street in Belize City.
Belize, formerly the British Honduras, is an independent and sovereign country located on the north eastern coast of Central America. Belize is bordered on the northwest by Mexico, on the east by the Caribbean Sea, and on the south and west by Guatemala. It has an area of 22,970 square kilometres (8,867 sq mi) and a population of 408,487 (2019). Its mainland is about 180 mi (290 km) long and 68 mi (110 km) wide. It has the lowest population and population density in Central America. The country's population growth rate of 1.87% per year is the second highest in the region and one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere.
United Black Association for Development (UBAD) was a cultural and political party established in Belize in February 1969 and based on traditional Black Power tenets.
Belize City is the largest city in Belize and was once the capital of the former British Honduras. According to the 2010 census, Belize City has a population of 57,169 people in 16,162 households. It is at the mouth of the Haulover Creek, which is a tributary of the Belize River. The Belize River empties into the Caribbean Sea five miles from Belize City on the Philip Goldson Highway on the coast of the Caribbean. The city is the country's principal port and its financial and industrial hub. Cruise ships drop anchor outside the port and are tendered by local citizens. The city was almost entirely destroyed in 1961 when Hurricane Hattie swept ashore on October 31. It was the capital of British Honduras until the government was moved to the new capital of Belmopan in 1970.
As of 2017, it has published over 3000 issues.
The name "Amandala" is adapted from the Xhosa/Zulu word "amandla", which means "power". Editors felt that Belizeans might mispronounce the word, so they added an extra "a" after the "d". Amandala editors often like to say the word means "power to the people", although the correct term for that is "Amandla, Ngawethu". The phrase occurs in English throughout the newspaper, most often in the Editorial and in publisher Evan X Hyde's column; however, it may appear in advertisements in the original African language.
Xhosa is a Nguni Bantu language with click consonants and is one of the official languages of South Africa. Xhosa is spoken as a first language by approximately 8.2 million people and by another 11 million as a second language in South Africa, mostly in Eastern Cape Province.
Zulu or isiZulu is a Southern Bantu language of the Nguni branch spoken in Southern Africa. It is the language of the Zulu people, with about 10 million native speakers, who primarily inhabit the province of KwaZulu-Natal of South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa, and it is understood by over 50% of its population. It became one of South Africa's 11 official languages in 1994.
Amandla in the Nguni languages means "power". The word was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against apartheid, used by the African National Congress and its allies. The leader of a group would call out "Amandla!" and the crowd would respond with "Awethu" or "Ngawethu!", completing the South African version of the rallying cry "power to the people!". The word is still associated with struggles against oppression.
Evan Anthony Hyde is a Belizean writer, journalist, media executive and former politician. He publishes and writes for the nation's largest newspaper, Amandala, and oversees its subsidiaries, KREM Radio and Krem Television. Between 1969 and 1974 he headed the United Black Association for Development (UBAD), which demanded better conditions for Belize's black people and emphasized unity. He earned a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College.
Adele Ramos is a Belizean poet, author, journalist and publisher. She is assistant editor of the Amandala, a widely circulated tabloid newspaper, published twice weekly.
Amandala began as a stenciled spreadsheet given out by members and supporters of UBAD in the streets of Belize City. After the third issue was published, UBAD officials decided to begin selling the paper for five cents a copy. The newspaper was published on Thursdays and dated and sold on Fridays. The first publisher and editor of the newspaper was Ismail Shabazz, a Muslim and member of UBAD; Hyde, the eventual publisher of the newspaper, was at times also an editor.
Many of the newspaper's first issues were dedicated to promoting the affairs of its parent organization, advertising meetings, celebrations and protests, and containing articles on topics considered important to Belizeans as well as criticism of the ruling People's United Party and its leader, George Price.
The People's United Party (PUP) is one of two major political parties in Belize. It is currently the main opposition party with 12 of 31 seats in the House of Representatives. It is a centre-left Christian democratic party. The party leader is Johnny Briceño, who currently serves as Belize's Leader of the Opposition.
George Cadle Price, PC, OCC, was a Belizean statesman who served twice as the head of government of Belize from 1961–1984 and 1989–1993. He served as First Minister and Premier under British rule until independence in 1981 and was the nation's first prime minister after independence that year. He is considered to have been one of the principal architects of Belizean independence. Today he is referred to by many as the "Father of the Nation". Price effectively dominated Belizean politics from the early 1960s until his 1996 retirement from party leadership, serving as the nation's head of government under various titles for most of that period.
The first issue claimed of the new newspaper's intentions: "We don't know too much about this newspaper thing... We'll do the jerk, we'll do the fly... who bex, bex. Who bex fus, lose."
In October 1969, UBAD merged forces with a similar movement, the People's Action Committee (PAC) chaired by Assad Shoman and Said Musa. Their newspaper, FIRE, joined Amandala to create "Amandala with FIRE", and this was the newspaper's masthead for the rest of 1969 and into January 1970, when RAM dissolved. Thereafter, Amandala reverted to its original name.
Assad Shoman is a Belizean diplomat, lawyer, historian, and former government minister. He currently serves as a leader of the Belizean delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the purpose of resolving the longstanding territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize.
Said Wilbert Musa is a Belizean lawyer and politician. He was the Prime Minister of Belize from 28 August 1998 to 8 February 2008.
In the Amandala of February 20, 1970, the newspaper ran an article slandering an election petition heard and dismissed in the Supreme Court after General Elections on December 5, 1969, won by the PUP. The full text of the article follows here:
A none too pleased PUP administration accused UBAD president Hyde and publisher Shabazz with sedition for the text of the article, which they claimed "meant that the administration of justice was a farce and that ... (those) who participated in it were participants in a childish game of amusements". (Shoman, 13 Chapters)
The case went to trial in June 1970, with former colleagues Shoman and Musa representing Hyde and Shabazz. For the next month, the fate of Amandala and UBAD hung in the balance as Attorney General V.H. Courtenay tried to prove that the Amandala had in fact committed sedition by lampooning the event and the defendants tried to exonerate themselves and improve the credibility of the fledgling newspaper. Shoman, perhaps showing some partiality, calls it the "most exciting trial in Belizean history", right down to the verdict, delivered on July 7, 1970, and clearing Hyde and Shabazz.
A relieved Amandala staff began making moves to develop the newspaper's technology. First, in 1971, Amandala purchased a Chandler and Price letter press to replace the Gestetner stencils used on the paper to that point. This technology lasted, with many trials and errors, to 1977, when it was shelved in favor of modern offset technology being favoured by competitors such as The Reporter and The Belize Times. Despite ravages from Hurricane Greta-Olivia, Amandala became the nation's leading newspaper by 1981 due in part to using offset printing.
Parent organization UBAD soon crumbled around Amandala as formerly faithful members went their own way: some to the U.S., some to England, some to the newly formed UDP and some elsewhere. It remained for UBAD to be permanently dissolved, and the occasion came after Evan X Hyde's loss at the polls in elections of October 30, 1974. In the Amandala of November 8, 1974, Hyde formally ended UBAD, quoting Frank Sinatra and explaining why the time had come for the Association to be shut down. But Amandala, he said, would move in the direction of being a "community newspaper" rather than a political one.
For the remainder of the 1970s, Amandala tried to avoid controversy. Indeed, editor Hyde ran unsuccessfully for the PUP in City Council elections of 1977, and the paper generally toed the line with government policy, although reserving its usual candor for certain situations. Joining the paper in this period was the "Ros'lin" serial about Belizean adolescents, a special "Jumble" word puzzle, columns by the publisher's father Charles B. Hyde and "The Old Man", a forerunner of today's "Smokey Joe" column.
As Amandala entered the 1980s, it had improved its technology, expanded its scope of writing and was reaching more people. The often impassioned editorials of the UBAD days gave way to more refined writing and greater discussion.
In 1981, Belize exploded into internal turmoil with the Heads of Agreement uprisings in March, and Amandala offered full coverage of events as they unfolded, making its name well known throughout the nation. Toward the end of 1981, it published an article linking Prime Minister Price and Minister Louis Sylvester to a report from Mexico about drugs in Belize. For the second time in its publishing life, Amandala went to court on the wrong end of lawsuits for libel, and was hit with separate judgements for BZ $10,000 and BZ $7,500 in 1982 and 1983. These debts crippled the newspaper but Amandala fought on. Relief arrived briefly with the ascension of the UDP to power in 1984, but the UDP and Amandala soon found themselves at loggerheads.
Popular columns during this period included "Far and Near" (before it moved to the Belize Times ), "Bill Williamson" (before it moved to The Reporter as "Roving Eye") and "Smokey Joe" (the first appearance).
The 1990s for Amandala really began on November 17, 1989, with the establishment of Belize's first commercial radio station, KREM FM, on the compound at Partridge Street. Amandala dedicated much of the next three years to weaning the young radio station and protecting it from its rivals, the now defunct Radio Belize and LOVE FM. UBAD celebrated what would have been its twenty-second anniversary in 1991, and Amandala publisher and former UBAD president Hyde wrote a reminisce of the UBAD glory days in the "From the Publisher" column of February 8, 1991. In addition, Amandala became the chief sponsor for local semi-professional team "The Raiders", which would win five national titles in the 1990s out of a total of seven. Through KREM and the Raiders, Amandala's name remained well-known. However, it did not escape criticisms of partisanship from rivals including the defunct People's Pulse, which derided all things Amandala for much of the 1990s until its closure in 1998, its sponsor the UDP being in power for much of that period. Amandala eventually admitted to a partnership with the then-Opposition PUP established in 1994 and dissolved ten years later. There was also a claim of sensationalism, bias and overhyping of events ascribed to the newspaper. Things got so bad there was an attempt by foreign nationals to buy out the newspaper that was only turned down at the last minute, and KREM Radio even briefly shut down. Despite Amandala's troubles, Belizeans faithfully bought the paper, which by this time dated its weekend issue for Sunday instead of Friday.
Popular columns included Evan "Mose" Hyde's entertainment column "Chat Bout", educator and activist Silvana Woods "Weh A Gat Fi Seh" (What I Have to Say), Belize's first column written entirely in Belize Creole (prior to its moving to The Reporter), and Los Angeles-based Pam Reyes' "Caribbean Pulse", in addition to Glenn Tillett's "Between the Lines" and Russell Vellos' "Viewpoint".
The newspaper today remains an entertaining mix of candor, firebrand commentary, serious journalism and energetic communication. Its popular columns include the following:
Amandala has maintained an online presence since the early 2000s. It was previously a tenant of Belizemall.com before establishing its own address. This address, amandala.com.bz, was revamped in 2006.
There has been discussion about a possible Spanish-language version of the paper; however, this has yet to be detailed. Amandala moved closer to endorsing a Spanish-language version of its newspaper in a recent editorial which explained what a Spanish-language Amandala would have to overcome in order to achieve success.In a more recent "From the Publisher", Hyde reported that the project was on hold.
Beginning in February 2010, the Editorial and From the Publisher columns appear in Spanish on separate pages from their English counterparts.
In the issue for October 22, 2006, Colin Hyde appeared to be closing his column "Sixes and Sevens", saying he would move on to other projects, including new novels, but that he would continue contributing to the Amandala. Hyde has since written numerous letters and occasional short columns dedicated to sport and politics. In October 2007, Hyde joined the paper for a brief period as Assistant Editor, during Adele Ramos' maternity leave, and reverted to his old post on her return in January 2008.
In April 2007, attorney and then leader of the opposition Dean Barrow wrote Amandala requesting payment on a loan accruing to some $262,000 procured from Sagis Investments, a company apparently owned by Lord Michael Ashcroft. Amandala is insisting that the move is an attempt to destabilize KREMin an election year and that the major political parties may be complicit in this attack.
Less than a week later on The Kremandala Show of April 24, panelist Bill Lindo, a supporter of the ruling People's United Party, claimed that Opposition leader Barrow in his capacity as chief litigator for the Belize Bank drafted an unlimited guarantee for the Government of Belize concerning a loan of $33 million to a consortium of investors for Universal Health Services, a local private hospital which is currently insolvent. Barrow had previously denied this accusation and wrote the Amandalawithin 24 hours of the statement to announce legal action against Bill Lindo for defamation of character, though he proposed to ignore Kremandala as an equally guilty partner (given that they hosted Lindo) because there was no evidence of a prior conspiracy. Lindo subsequently left the program, but has returned as of December 11, 2007, its last episode of the year. No mention has since been made of the lawsuit.
The Sagis case went to court in May 2008 and Chief Justice Dr. Abdulai Conteh ruled in KREM Radio's favor (see that article for details).
However, recent events led Amandala to change their tune. In May and June 2007 Belizeans rose up in protest over the unilateral signing of a loan note by the Government and Michael Ashcroft's Belize Bank over a 33 million dollar arrangement with the struggling Universal Health Services. That matter is currently on standstill, but the PUP has fallen out of favor with Kremandala, or vice versa, as explained by Hyde in a recent "From the Publisher".
The United Democratic Party (UDP) is one of the two major political parties in Belize. It is the ruling party, having won the 2008, 2012 and 2015 general elections. A centre-right conservative party, the UDP is led by Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow.
Ralph Henry Fonseca is a Belizean politician and a member of the People's United Party.
Belize municipal elections, 2006 were a series of local elections held on March 1, 2006, to fill vacancies for town councils in Corozal, Orange Walk, San Pedro, San Ignacio, Benque Viejo, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, Belize City and Belmopan. All the councils except Belize City elected one mayor and six councillors; Belize City elected one mayor and ten councillors.
Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) is a political party established in December 2005 in the Cayo District of Belize. It first contested municipal elections in the capital city of Belmopan on 1 March 2006, receiving 20 percent of votes cast but none of the seven seats. VIP operates primarily in Belmopan, but also has a presence in the Belize and Corozal Districts.
Krem Television is a Belizean television station established in 2004 and serving Belize City.
KREM Radio is a Belize City radio station operating on the F.M. band at 96.5, 91.1 and 101.1 MHz since November 17, 1989. Its headquarters are located at 3304 Partridge Street in Belize City, also the home of the Amandala newspaper and Krem Television. It brands itself the "first private radio station in Belize".
John Avery is Belizean Public Utilities Commissioner, and was a journalist.
Evan Anniko "Mose" Hyde is a Belizean television executive and talk show host. He is one of eight children for KREM patriarch Evan X Hyde. He has been with local media powerhouse Kremandala Ltd. since its inception and has worked for all three branches: Amandala, KREM FM and Krem Television. In addition to his duties as executive producer and host of Krem Radio/Television's morning talk show Wake Up Belize (WUB) morning vibe, he is a part-time DJ and one-third of local studio system The Dignitaries. Mr "Mose" Hyde currently hosts his morning show with Sharon Marin. Together they create an inviting atmosphere for Belizeans to call into the show and give their input about past and current occurrences.
A legislative election was held in the nation of Belize on February 7, 2008. Beginning with this election, Belizeans elected 31 members to the House of Representatives of Belize instead of 29. In what was considered an upset, the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) won the election with 25 out of 31 seats; the ruling People's United Party won six.
Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson was a Belizean newspaper editor, activist and politician. He served in the House of Representatives of Belize as member for the Albert constituency from 1965 to 1998 and twice as a minister. Goldson was a founding member of both of Belize's current major political parties, the People's United Party (PUP) in the 1950s and the United Democratic Party (UDP) in the 1970s. He was also the leading spokesman of the hardline anti-Guatemalan territorial claims National Alliance for Belizean Rights party in the 1990s.
Dean Russel Lindo was a Belizean attorney and politician. He was one of the principal founders of the United Democratic Party in 1973 and served as its first leader from 1974 to 1979.
The Kremandala Show is a Belizean political commentary talk show airing on Krem Radio and Krem Television. It premiered in 1994 on radio and 2005 on television and was hosted by KREM founder Evan X Hyde.
Michael Kwame Finnegan is a Belizean politician and a member of the United Democratic Party. He is currently Minister of Housing and Urban Development in Prime Minister Dean Barrow's cabinet. He is a member of the House of Representatives, representing the Mesopotamia Electoral Division in Belize City. Finnegan hosts the television show Mek Wave and Lik Road.
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