Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF OUR ROOTS IN CROOKED TREE VILLAGE

Mrs. Susan Tillett, daughter of Christiline and Ezekiah Gillett and Mr. Roland Tillett, son of David Tillett and Emma Westby Tillett  of Crooked Tree Village. They are the parents of  Lillian, Claire, Minette, Rosilee, Leland and Earl, all deceased and Margie, Gerry, Marcia and Danny Tillett.
Christopher Gillett, a son of Crooked Tree Village: Can anyone from CT recognize the family of this gentleman.
Ms. Rufina Tillett, mother of Mr. Hughson Tillett, Mrs. Zillah Gillett, Mrs. Ethel "Taati" Gillett
Crooked Tree Village Reunion will be hosting another family tree display at the 2012 reunion, April 6th-8th. At the 2008 reunion there was a nice presentation, and some of the family trees were spectacular. We are only 8 months away from the reunion, so now is a good time to start!

Would you like to learn more details about your family’s heritage, or are you curious about your family history, but don’t know where to start? Well, the best place is with the elders in your family, and the best time to start is now while they are still around. With all the computer technology and social networking sites out there today, it is really an easy and fun way to gather a lot of family information.

Another possible way to connect with friends and relatives is through Ancestry.com. They even have a program that will connect you by telephone with whomever you found and want to talk to. They also have a subscriber’s list of over 900,000.

Genealogists and genealogy websites have plenty of information for beginning and building a family tree. You can start with yourself by jotting down all important dates- marriages, births, graduations, divorces and re-marriages. Write down all the names you have been know by, where you lived, where you went to school and where you worked.
Do the same for your parents, brothers, and sisters. Write down the names of your parents and grand-parents and all their siblings.

Repeat all of the above for your parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Try to build your family tree based on facts, and repeat and confirm all the information you gathered with various family members. The more you inquire, the easier it will be to move from one generation to another.

Make appointments to speak with family members about family history. Some of them may even pull out old photos or records to share with you. A good idea is to keep the conversation light when asking questions, and let the conversation go where it will. You never know, you might learn a lot.

Write down everything, and with today’s technology, you might even want to use a video camera. Please corroborate any information you are not confident about with several family members, or to be on the safe side, see if you can find historical records at the library or registry, and again at on-line sites.

The last thing, but not the least, please exercise care when posting the information you gather on line. You never know, your great-great-grandmother might be born out of wedlock, and by publishing this private information you might anger some of the family members. Be very careful not to divulge too much private and personal information online.

So, get the family story going, ask all the important questions, and we hope that you will be ready to display more beautiful family trees in 2012. You never know, you might win the prize!!

This will be a village reunion for the record book. COME ONE, COME ALL; COME HOME TO CROOKED TREE VILLAGE!!

2008 reunion’s winners were:

First Place- The Codd Family, presented by Shirley Codd Guest
Second Place- The Adolphus Family, presented by Barbara Rowland
Third Place- The Gillett Family, presented by Tischel Diaz

Folks from Crooked Tree Village, who all are related to these good people on these pictures here?
Mrs. Ethel "Taati" Tillett Gillett, daughter of Mrs. Rufina Tillett
Mrs. Zillah Tillett Gillett, daughter of Mrs. Rufina Tillett
Hezekiah Gillett
Mrs. Lucinda Tillett Gillett and Mr. Hubert Gillett
Mr. Samuel Russell
Ms. Maria Crawford (L)
Nichols "Baye" Crawford

Friday, August 26, 2011

IMF ISSUES FAVORABLE REPORT ON BELIZE ECONOMY


A favourable statement on Belize was issued this week by the IMF which has just completed a review of our country’s economy.


According to the IMF, “Belize weathered the financial crisis relatively well, when compared with other countries in the Caribbean Community,” It attributes expanding output in 2010 to activity in electricity, and wholesale and retail trade. It also notes that inflation for the entire year (2010) was zero, and rose only slightly to 0.9 percent in February of this year (2011).


“Growth in 2011 is being supported by expansion in the manufacturing and agriculture sectors, as well as an improvement in the terms of trade, allowing the stabilization of the foreign reserves cover at about 3 months imports of goods and services,” says the IMF.

Areas which require further improvement, the IMF says, include fiscal consolidation, gradual debt reduction, safeguarding financial and monetary stability, boosting growth and reducing poverty.


The statement notes that the IMF supports the Belize authorities’ plan to use the Financial Sector Assessment Programme as an opportunity to rebuild momentum for the financial sector, and that the IMF stands ready to offer technical assistance in advancing the reforms recommended.


With respect to boosting growth and reducing poverty, the IMF states, “The government is working with the private sector to identify specific measures to improve the business environment, which is crucial to support long-term investment and poverty reduction.” The fund officials also welcomed government’s focus on tackling poverty.


The IMF mission to Belize conducted its work from August 15 to 25. Upon its return to Washington, it will prepare a staff report that is scheduled to be discussed by the IMF Executive Board in late October.


Press Release – Belmopan – August 26, 2011


Photo #2 from Belizean.com

BELIZE SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH WORLD BANK

Signing of the contract
A contract for the sum of $218,000 for  two projects that will enhance the traffic flow and safety through lane markings in the busiest roadways of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and Belmopan was signed this morning at the Social Investment Fund (SIF) headquarters in Belmopan


The contract was signed by the Executive Director of the Social Investment Fund, Mr Daniel Cano, while Mr Hugo Lemus  signed on behalf of Modern Construk, a construction company based in San Ignacio, which was the successful bidder  of the  project.  Present at the ceremony were Mr Simeon Lopez, Mayor of Belmopan and Ms. Yingwei Wu, Senior Procurement Officer at the World Bank.

The contract represents the formal launching and the first civil works projects being undertaken as part of the Belize Municipal Development Project, BMDP, which will be implemented in the various municipalities throughout Belize. These include Benque Viejo, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Belmopan, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, Orange Walk and Corozal.


Later this year bids will be invited for the construction of a modern market in Dangriga and a new multipurpose centre for Punta Gorda as well as bids for the construction of drains and paving of streets in the participating municipalities.

The project in San Ignacio and Santa Elena entails the enhancement of the intersection between Burns Avenue and Savannah Street by the installation of bollards, raised medians and marking of  the approach lanes and configuring the intersection to allow for better traffic flow.  The improvement will allow pedestrians greater access to stores, street vendors, hotels and shopping areas in downtown San Ignacio.


Under the project, the main entrance to the drop off/loading area of the Santa Elena Primary School will also get a facelift.  The project will entail the paving of a formal loading/unloading zone at the main entrance of the school, including the installation of a footpath along the zone to allow students safe passage, installation of kerb and channel to facilitate surface drainage flow to the adjacent drain and installation of an improved stop sign for speed control.

Meanwhile, the project for Belmopan entails the improvement and lane marking of Constitution Drive North Ring Road, Constitution Drive South Ring Road and the junction of Constitution Drive and Forest Drive. The lane markings will improve the legibility of the road, enhance safety especially during poor visibility in rain storms and night driving.

The key elements of the project include:
1.      Improve lane delineation along Constitution Drive and Forest Drive and stop line location
2.      Provide lane markings for turn lanes along Constitution Drive
3.      Narrow Forest Drive by placing a raised median island, defining only one exit lane.

BMDP is a five-year project being implemented by the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) under the Social Investment Fund and financed by the Government of Belize through a  $30.0 Bz Million loan from the World Bank.  The main objective of the BMDP is to improve access to basic municipal infrastructure and to enhance municipal management in selected Town and City Councils. This will be achieved by implementing subprojects in the following three categories:

1.     Municipal Infrastructure Investments
2.     Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for Town and City Councils and Central Government
3.     Project Management /Administration

For further information please contact Mr Mike Hernandez Jr. J.P., Director of Public Relations of the Social Investment Fund, at Tel: 822-0239, via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org or Cell No. 634-4002.

Belmopan, Thursday, 25th August 2011: 
Press Release No. 22 – 2011

  

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BELIZEAN CONTRACTORS IN TRAINING ON WORLD BANK PROCUREMENT PROCEDURES

World Bank Senior Procurement Specialist, Yingwei Wu, conducting the Seminar
SIF staff at the Seminar
Belmopan, Tuesday, 23rd August 2011:   Some 37 Belizean contractors and suppliers of goods and equipment participated in a one-day Business Outreach Seminar on Procurement at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City on Wednesday, 24th August, 2011.

The objective of the seminar is to create awareness among the local  business community  with regards to the World Bank’s procurement guidelines so that Belizean entrepreneurs can enhance their skills to prepare responsive bids and proposals for goods, works and services under the Belize Municipal Development Project, (BMDP). 

The seminar will include topics such as the World Bank’s Lending Trends, the Project Development Cycle, the Procurement of Goods, Works and Services, the Borrower’s Role in the procurement of Consultants, objectives of the BMDP and Experience with the Procurement of Goods, Strengths and Weakness of submissions received.

The Business Outreach Seminar will be conducted by Ms. Yingwei Wu, Senior Procurement Specialist at the Work Bank and will include presentations from Mr. Ernest Raymond, BMDP Project Co-cordinator and Mr. Lemuel Palacio, BMDP Procurement Officer.

BMDP is a five-year project being implemented by the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) under the Social Investment Fund and financed by the Government of Belize through a $30.0 Bz Million loan from the World Bank.  The main objective of the BMDP is to improve access to basic municipal infrastructure and to enhance municipal management in selected Town and City Councils. This will be achieved by implementing subprojects in the following three categories:

Municipal Infrastructure Investments
Technical Assistance and Capacity Building for Town and City Councils and Central Government
Project Management /Administration
Workshop participants
Wide shot of participants of the Business Outreach Seminar 
For further information please contact Mr. Mike Hernandez Jr. J.P., Director of Public Relations of the Social Investment Fund, at Tel: 822-0239, via email at mike.hernandez@sifbelize.org or Cell No. 634-4002.

Press Release No. 21 – 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

NEW MEXICAN AMBASSADOR TO BELIZE

His Excellency Mario Velázquez Suarez (L) and Governor-General of Belize, Sir Colville Young (R)

Belmopan, 22nd August, 2011. (Belize House) His Excellency Mario Velázquez Suarez today presented his Credentials to the Governor- General of Belize as the Ambassador of the United Mexican States to Belize.

In a brief but impressive ceremony at Belize House in Belmopan, Ambassador Velázquez Suarez told the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, that he felt extremely honoured to be appointed to this distinguished post. He added, “Mexico desires a special relationship with Belize, and always frank.

Therein lies my instructions and my own convictions. Therefore, Your Excellency, the work of the Embassy to my care will be tireless, but I am sure that working side by side, Belizeans and Mexicans, we will build a prosperous and dignified future for the benefit of our countries”.

Earlier, Ambassador Velázquez Suarez had paid a courtesy visit on Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign trade, Hon. Wilfred Elrington when he presented to him a copy of his Letters of Credence.

Ambassador Velázquez is a career diplomat, having joined the Mexican Foreign Service in 1975 and obtaining the rank of Minister in 1999. He has been serving as Head of Chancellery at the Embassy of Mexico in Finland since 2008. He has command of the English and French languages and has knowledge of Italian and Portuguese. He is married and has two children.



Monday, August 22, 2011

SHIMON PERES-NOBEL PEACE PRIZE-WINNING ISRAELI STATESMAN-TURNS 88

President Shimon Peres of Israel
  • Israeli political figure known for pursuit of peace, democracy
  • Worked on key peace agreements with Palestinians, Jordanians
  • Talks of Israeli innovations in agriculture, water that can help Arab world


Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, has turned 88. Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords in 1993 with Israeli and Palestinian leaders Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat. He is a widely revered Israeli political figure.


Born in what is present-day Belarus, Peres emigrated to Tel Aviv in 1934 and served under Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, helping to acquire arms and build alliances for the nascent state. Peres’ career spans 66 years, during which time he has served as prime minister and as a member of 12 cabinets.


He is a staunch proponent of Middle East peace and economic cooperation in the region. The Oslo Accords, or Declaration of Principles (DOP), and the Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty are two examples of peace agreements Peres worked on that ushered in greater economic interaction between Israel and its Arab neighbors.


Throughout his career, Peres pushed for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Recent reports suggest that Peres has been in contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to try to encourage him to reenter peace talks with Israel.


He recently told a group of Washington-based ambassadors and senior diplomats visiting Israel on a mission organized by The Israel Project that saving the life of a child, anywhere, is the greatest goal of a public servant. He said that peace building and climate change are two of the most important issues for him.


He talked about Israel’s innovations in agriculture and said that Israel has managed to reduce its use of water by nearly half. He said that Israel is happy to share its technology with its neighbors.    


Peres also said that he has the highest regard for Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad. He said that a great achievement would be getting Hamas to accept the Quartet’s peace principles.


“For peace you need a majority, yet for terror you only need a minority,” Peres told the ambassadors. He was speaking about the Palestinian bid for unilateral recognition of independence at the United Nations in September, saying that a U.N. document would not necessarily change the situation on the ground.


“Will it change terror? Will it stop Iran?” he added.

Note to readers: The exact date of birth of Shimon Peres is a matter of some dispute. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, It has been given as Aug. 16, 1923, by a number of official sources and biographers, but some uncertainty remains. The Office of the President of Israel and Michael Bar-Zohar’s authorized biography offer the Hebrew date of Av 20, 5683, which corresponds to Aug. 2, 1923, on the Gregorian calendar. Other sources—including an earlier authorized biography by Matti Golan—have given dates ranging from Aug. 1, 1923, to Aug. 21, 1923. Peres himself has not chosen to put the matter to rest, and public celebrations of his birthday have occurred on various dates in the month of August.
 
Source: The Israel Project (TIP), an international, non-profit organization, provides journalist and leaders accurate information about the Middle East. theisraelproject

Saturday, August 20, 2011

TORNADO IN CROOKED TREE VILLAGE- BELIZE

The Westby's  Former Residence
The family of Edward “King” Westby of Crooked Tree Village is lucky to be alive tonight when a water spout turned tornado struck their home this morning. The Westby's were inside their bedroom, and survived the ordeal, but their home was totally destroyed.
Edward 'King' Westby
The tornado was the result of tropical storm Harvey, and the severe thunderstorm that passed through the village of Crooked Tree this morning. Reports from villagers revealed that one house was totally destroyed and two more were severely damaged. Crooked Tree is home to many cashew plantations of Belize and many of the trees were destroyed; in fact almost everything in its path has been flattened. Several structures in the village were also stripped of their galvanized roofing, and several homes are without electricity and cable television. The Belize Electricity Ltd. is in the village to restore electricity to those affected.
Close Call
Crooked Tree has been hit by a small tornado about three years ago. Villagers said these are the only two times they can remember experiencing a waterspout tornado.

Most reports from the radio and TV stations say that the high winds and heavy rains have been concentrated in the south and mid west of the country of Belize.


Downed Tree
Ryan Sealy of Crooked Tree was at home near the Crooked Tree Lagoon when the water spout formed and then headed inland as a tornado and was able to capture the system with this cell phone video below.

At 11:00 p. m EST Tropical Storm Harvey is still bringing heavy rain to Guatemala, and eastern Mexico, maximum sustained winds have fallen to 40 mph. Harvey should weaken into a tropical depression on Sunday.

Photos by F. Crawford & J. Crawford, DVM

Friday, August 19, 2011

SPECIAL DISCOUNTED FARE TO BELIZE FOR THE SEPTEMBER CELEBRATIONS

Hello All,
BTB's Update information on our September Celebrations is below. American Airlines has joined the initiative by offering 20% discount form all major US hubs. Join Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow at BTB's Gala, click the Journey Home Package button for details.
Forward to all your members, family and friends!!

This year, 2011 marks the 30th Anniversary of Belize's Independence and the 213th Anniversary of the Battle of St. George's Caye. In recognition of this momentous occasion, the Belize Tourism Board has teamed-up with Delta, American Airlines & Hoteliers to offer special deals to Belizeans and their friends interested in coming to Belize for September Celebrations.

Click here to make your reservations TODAY for one of the grandest events Belize has ever seen. The BTB's spokesperson for the diaspora "Journey Home" initiative is Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow, the wife of the Prime Minister. Click below for your personal invitation from Mrs. Barrow. 

Mark your calendar for the following September celebrations.
DATES
St. George's Caye Day-September 10
Independence Day-September 21


Belize awaits you!!

TROPICAL STORM HARVEY THREATENS THE COAST OF BELIZE

Tropical Depression Eight became Tropical Storm Harvey at mid-day today. The centre of the system is latitude 16.3 N, longitude 84.2 W. This position is about 270 miles east southeast of Dangriga. The TS is moving towards the west-northwest at 10 miles per hour and is expected make land fall by late Saturday evening that is the 20th of August 2011, tomorrow. The present forecast track takes the system just to the north of Dangriga. Wind speed is presently 40mph and additional strengthening is forecast. 3-5 inches of rainfall is expected.

The Government of Belize has declared a Tropical Storm Warning for the entire coast of Belize. We are in the Red Two Phase of the National Emergency Warning System.



ARTICLE OF INTEREST: BELIZE BARRIER REEF IN MAJOR TROUBLE

There is so much going on as it relates to our bit of the Caribbean Sea, and, in this writing I hope to open the senses about that which we hold so dear. We need to start paying attention to our things marine, because while “dawn [used to be] a fisherman,” the rest of the day is pure savagery as it relates to our marine resources these days.
           
The only time we Belizeans seem to take serious notice of our seas is in time of hurricanes, border dispute flare-ups, or some major cocaine-related drama. And while these are important events, we must also look at protecting the “coastal zone” year round. Prevention is better than cure. Yet, we don’t pay much attention when our highly efficient Coast Guard busts rebel fishermen with baby lobsters barely two (2) inches long, protected sea cucumbers, and undersized and out-of-season resources. This ambivalent attitude is not going to cost us later: it’s taking its toll now. Right now!
           
85% of our reef is dead, dying, or in serious trouble. That’s the declaration made by our senior marine conservationist on YaYa’s KREM Sunday Review last Sunday. I simply had to rewind the tape during the break to make sure I heard right. Yes, Mr. Roberto Pott said 85%. This should be enough to raise all the alarms. At this rate we won’t have a living and healthy reef in 10 years, which means we won’t have much fish, conch, lobster and all the wonderful diet the sea provides. I was appalled. And so it is with this righteous indignation that I unapologetically committed myself to doing something about it. 



Image courtesy of Ambergis Daily

Thursday, August 18, 2011

BELIZE 30TH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS

PM NETANYAHU'S STATEMENT FOLLOWING TODAY'S TERROR ATTACK IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL

Firstly, I would like to express my condolences to the families of the civilians murdered, and to those of the soldiers who fell while responding to today’s terrorist attacks.


I share their pain. I know that their lives will never be the same. I also want to express my hopes for a speedy recovery to those injured in these attacks and are currently undergoing treatment in hospital.


We all witnessed today an attempt to escalate the terrorist war against Israel by launching of attacks from the Sinai. If there is someone who thinks that the State of Israel will let this pass, he is mistaken.


I have set out a principle – when the citizens of Israel are attacked, we respond immediately and with strength.  That principle was implemented today.  Those who gave the order to murder our citizens, while hiding in Gaza, are no longer among the living.


I commend the IDF and the security services who eliminated today in Gaza the senior figures of the organization which carried out the terror attacks in the south. I commend the soldiers, police, and members of the security services who acted swiftly, determinately and bravely against the terrorists, and who thereby prevented an even greater tragedy.


If the terrorist organizations believe that they can attack our citizens and get away with it, they will soon learn how wrong they are. We will exact a price, a very heavy price.


Source:http://www.israelpolitik.org/2011/08/18/pm-netanyahus-statement-following-todays-events-in-the-south/

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PANNING TO PERFECTION BY NORMAN C. RODRIGUEZ


Norman C. Rodriguez
Writer and poet, Norman C. Rodriguez announced the launching of his fifth book of poems, and second major publication, Panning to Perfection. The launching of this collection of poems is on Thursday, August 18th at the BTL Newtown Barracks Park at 10:00 a.m. in Belize City. 

Norman is a nature loving guy who listens to a lot of eighties music. Poetry writing comes when he is most emotionally challenged especially when the issue at hand concerns the social welfare of others. He was born the 16th May, 1970, the tenth of twelve children for his parents. He attended primary school in the Stann Creek Valley and high school, college and university in Belize City. He is presently reading for a law degree at the University of Guyana after which he will study at Norman Manley Law School in Jamaica.


His greatest wish is to see that justice is served. He hates injustice and he will sacrifice a lot to ensure that injustice is served. He hates that because many Belizeans are ignorant of the law they are taken advantaged of. He believes that often, even policemen and other officers of the law abuse the underprivileged because they do not know their rights. “Even at the threat of losing my own freedom will I stand up for others. I love Belize so much that I am willing to sacrifice my life for my country”.

Norman C. Rodriguez is A LOVER OF BELIZE. You all know that!! His actions speaks for themselves. He will die for Belize!

Be on time and be a part of this historic launching. Please know that you are all invited and that you can get your copy of this collection of poetry for Bz$20.00 at the launching. Over 65 new poems by Norman C. Rodriguez!

Monday, August 15, 2011

GENERATORS AND FLASHLIGHTS FOR THE HIGH SEAS

CONSULATE GENERAL OF  BELIZE
Park Mile Plaza
4801 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 250
Los Angeles, CA. 90010
Telephone: (323) 634-9900 Fax: (323) 634-9903

E-mail: belizeconsulate@sbcglobal.net


August 12, 2011
Generators & Flashlights on the High Seas
(Los Angeles) Hyde Shipping Corp of Medley, Florida on Thursday August11 informed the Consulate of Belize that the vessel carrying 8 new 4000 Watt generators,  a box containing 8 five-gallonfuel containers and 500 flashlights and batteries departed for Belize with an expected arrival date of late next week.
Destination: National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO)
More information will be forthcoming upon their arrival.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

ARTICLE OF INTEREST: BELIZE CONSTITUTION STIRS UP INTENSE DEBATE


The government of Belize has opened up a can of worms in its attempts to change the Belize Constitution to further facilitate the expropriation of private property  by placing the process beyond the reach of the courts. The imbroglio stems from the ruling United Democratic Party’s expropriation of Belize Telemedia Limited, Belize Water Services Limited, and Belize Electricity Limited – all companies having in common substantial international investment interests. G. Michael Reid’s take thus week in the latest developments on the dreaded Ninth Amendment.


By the time you read this, what could have happened, might or might not have happened but whether we escaped or not, it would have done much to determine what course Belize will take as a nation hereafter.


Read more: http://belizean.com/news/attempt-to-change-belize-constitution-stirs-up-intense-debate/#ixzz1V2MpZ78X


M.A. Romero is a Belize based writer and photojournalist and Managing Director of Belize.com Ltd. The company's main web site is at www.belize.com. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

THE INTERVIEW



Getting to know...Kareem Ferguson

This is a segment that we are doing here on Village View Post. "The Interview" will be with ordinary Belizeans that have achieved extraordinary things at home and abroad in an effort to make our community and the world a better place. Today we celebrate the contributions of Kareem Ferguson to the United States of America and to Belize. We hope to motivate others to follow in service to humanity.
Kareem with (R) director Dan Bonnell
 25 year old, Belize born, Kareem Ferguson is well on his way to building an acting career in Los Angeles, California. Ferguson has been nominated by the NAACP for his role in the play "Free Man of Color".  He played the role of John Newton Templeton, a real-life historical figure who was one of the first freed slaves to graduate from an American University. "Free Man of Color" was performed from August to September in 2010 in California to rave reviews. For reviews of the play please click here and here
Ferguson has performed on theater stages across the United States and internationally. His television credits include popular TV shows such as Scrubs, Las Vegas and Deadline. 

You can catch Kareem on Aug 29th, 2011 at the 21st NAACP Theater Awards which is being held at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood.


Q: Where were you born?

A:  I was born in Belize City, Belize. I remember being a little boy in the old "Long Barracks" off Vernon Street. Where a ghost knocked me down one night, yep it’s true, a ghost. However, most of my childhood in Belize was spent in the Kings Park area where I attended All Saints School until standard 5.

Q: What made you leave Belize?

A: I left Belize for the same reason many Belizeans have left; to gain more economic, and education opportunities. The decision however was that of my parents as I was a child at the time. I must admit though, I was thrilled to travel to America and fly on an airplane. It was my dream to live in America and also to learn to fly airplanes, both things which I have accomplished.

Q: What was your childhood like growing up in Belize?

A: My childhood in Belize was awesome. I believe growing up in Belize was the best thing that happened to me. The discipline and structure that was created by mother and father has allowed my success so far in my career. The respect for adults, honesty and loyalty were ingrained in me. The work ethic of my mother is the thing that I carry with me daily. Whenever I get weak, lazy or lose focus, I think about my mother and how hard she has worked to keep our family together and to achieve her goals. This recollection always shocks me back to get back "on the horse" and keep riding. My father was a politician and journalist back in Belize; he was the Mayor of Belize City at one point. My one regret from childhood is that I didn't get to see the Cayes, (off shore islands) when I was a child and never became a successful swimmer, although I remember my father trying to teach me and my siblings.

Q: How was your high school experience in the US?

A:  I did not go to high school in Belize; however I was the President of the first Belizean Club in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The club was based at L.A. High School and was quite successful in sharing the culture of Belize at school with cultural dances and plays about Belizean lifestyle being performed. I was definitely not the coolest guy in school. I liked the girls but they didn’t really go for me; they mostly said I was too nice. You know that whole “you’re like my brother crap” arghh!!! I hated that. I will say though, something about my personality allowed me to be accepted across most of the social and cultural lines in high school. I spent a large amount of time with all the ex-patriot Belizean students and when not with them I was flying back and forth between L.A. and Sacramento as a teenage consultant to the California Alcohol and Drug Department under Governor Deukmejian. Teenagers from all soci0-economic backgrounds were picked to come together and find ideas to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among young people before it goes to the intervention stage. My portfolio was to come up with ideas from a religious/church based perspective. At the same time in high school I was taking flight lessons to get my pilot’s license, which I received when I was 17 years old.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?

A:   There were two instances. The first I recall doing some dramatic response to my mother when I was in Belize in reaction to something she wanted me to do…I can’t fully recall but I know she said “that was good. I was dramatic at times. However what really made my decision to get trained as an actor was after doing a musical called ‘Once Upon A Mattress’ in college. Some of the girls in my dorm dragged me to go audition. I did, I got the role and people enjoyed what I did and it felt good to get that appreciation. I was bit by the bug…so I went to get more acting training.

Q: What sort of training or education did you acquire when you were starting out? 

A: I was already in Utah in aviation school when I decided I wanted to switch, and fortunately at the time the University of Utah in Salt Lake City had a really competitive acting program. I auditioned and was accepted to the Bachelor of Fine Arts Actor Training Program.  From there I went to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and received my Masters of Fine Arts Degree, in the event I ever choose to teach on the university level.


Q: What are the challenges of being an African American actor in the business, and a foreign one at that? 

A: Being a foreigner was tough for me because on first sight I am just another black man. But I am not a black American and I had to get used to how a black man was seen, portrayed and expected to act. I am pretty good at controlling my accent when acting. But in school that was a challenge; I literally had arguments with my voice and speech teachers. I did not want to lose my accent. I thought I would not be able to get it back. I was a bit difficult in training and I think they wanted to kick me out a few times. The common challenges for all black actors are the work opportunities when it comes to the mainstream of the business. The major networks and studios, in general (not everyone is this way) most of the writers and producers are men and of European extraction and they write from their perspective and what they see as funny or dramatic. We as a world have been conditioned to gain our communal experiences through a European experience, when it comes to crossing cultural lines. For example in the black culture we have our vision of beauty, but that does not easily translate to Asia, Europe and Latin America. However the white vision of beauty is accepted by all cultures no questions asked. Why? They have traditionally had the power of marketing. Now with the internet and the ease of content creation, every group can produce and expose themselves and there seems to no longer be a huge need to appeal to everyone. If you have enough of a population you can play to your base and monetize your product or art. This is what we need to do as people of color. Now let me be clear: I am not saying to ignore another culture, all I am saying there is no need to wait, and make your art appeal to everyone in order to gain creative and economic success. Yet as borders are being broken down xenophobia is fighting a losing battle and so I find hope that African-American and Belizean-American Actors will have an easier time telling their stories.


Q:  Do you find theater or film/TV to be more challenging? 

A: All the mediums have their specific challenges. In theater the artist uses more of his or her physical body in telling the story especially if you are playing to a theater filled with a couple thousand people. In film and television it’s about the eyes and telling the story through your face, it's intimate and each audience member is right in your face looking at you. So, there is no need to be huge in physicality or loud to reach the back row. I an all the mediums of story telling specificity and economy of movement are needed. In general, theater-trained actors have lasting power and stronger instrument meaning command of voice, thought and body.


Q: What advice could you give to other Belizeans looking to pursue a career in acting? 

A: Get training. Also, until you can afford training just start telling stories, read books, poetry out loud. We as a culture have many stories, so just start telling them. They might suck at first but you will get better. Remember, it’s a business. We love the art but treat Hollywood as a business; you and your art are products. Allow your mind to wander and dream.

Q: Besides flying your own plane, what else do you do for fun in your spare time? 

A: I actually do not own an airplane yet. I rent them. One of my dreams and goals is to have my own. Besides flying, I like to hike nature trails, hit the gym. I do boring things like watch the weather channel…lol.  I am into politics local and global. A good club or house party for some all night dancing, love that.

Q: List a principle you live by.

A: “Make ‘peace’ the chief organizing principle of your life and judge everything by that standard”

Q: If you could describe yourself at most in three sentences, how would you go about
doing so?

I love passionately in all aspects of my life. I fail often so I can learn even more. I am both an introvert and extrovert, depending on the Moon's gravitational pull…LMAO…it’s true though.