REPORT OF CABO CONFERENCE IN COSTA RICA – LIMON December 2010
by Myrna Manzanares
The Central American Black Organization Conference (CABO) was held in Limon Costa Rica December, 2010. Myrna Manzanares, the president of NKC and Janice Young member attended the conference. It was quite an experience getting to Limon from San Jose, the capital .The day was very wet and it rained all the while we were travelling. Some parts of Costa Rica is similar to Belize when it rains constantly. Bridges and streets get flodded and yes there are also potholes!
We expected to reach Limon between four and four-thirty, but unfortunately like Belize a number of bridges were flooded and we didn’t arrive until eight o’ clock, spending a total of seven hours on the road. Fortunately we caught the earlier bus, but the group of eighty other participants including the president were held up in San Jose , because the roads had already closed. They missed the entire first and second day of the conference.
This year’s conference was held in the memory of Austin Flores who passed away earlier 2010. He was one of the founding members of CABO. The conference included the proclamation to the inauguration of the sixteenth Assembly of CABO at the Salon Liberty Hall Black Starline UNIA. Despite the rain and revised schedule the conference proceed and all efforts was made to include as much of the agenda as possible.
The first day of the sessions included words from Mirta Colon, Women’s secretary of CABO; paper presented by Epsy Campbell on cultural Identity; information on the role of the black woman in history by Arzinia Richardson ; and a session on Traditional Medicine. These were all general sessions with all the delegates. These were very informative sessions
Mirta Colon shared the activities that were carried out over the year 2010.The basic message from Ms Campbell was that black women need to recognize the power they have inside and the importance of knowing their identity. She shared the injustices that is being done to women in this region and how women are expected to be less that men, as well as the violence women continue to suffer. She feels that the women of Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras need to step up .
Listening to her its clear that black women in Belize have come a long way in achieving a modicum of equity and equality in Belize. That does not mean that we have met our goal in this process but we are way ahead in this region and that there are ways in which we can share and support our sisters in the region. Reflecting on Belize we see that there are many opportunities for women to be educated, black or otherwise. What the region is trying to push is women in the political process.
Epsy Campbell spoke about cultural identity and the need to teach our young people about their identy which includes the origins of their identity, no matter the skin color. If you have African origins you have to understand who you are . There are kriols all over the Central American region as well as Garifuna who are of African origins. She feels that it is important to teach our youth about the UNIA and the work they have done in the region to move black people forward. It is also important to teach about Garvyism ( the work of Marcus Garvey )
An interesting session was conducted by Arezinia Richardson on the presence of black women thirty thousand years before the first dynasty. He spoke of the role the African woman played in history. A queen of England was African, three popes married African women. He shared that black women have always been worshipped by all women. The sympol is the feather meaning the feather in my heart. Women were important in the old African traditions. The Africans felt that women had the ability to take the mind of the creator and make a living body to save the world. He also share that in South America, the Caps an African tribe headed by a woman was wiped out. 50 villages were wiped out and buried with the African princess who was the head of the tribe.
Other interesting information he shared was that African women invented the entire idea of justice. He also shared that women were the ones who calculated the math to send people to the moon.
Other areas of the conference that were covered are sited below.
An exciting part of the conference was the cultural presentations which were shared through dancing . The similarities in the cultural outfits and dancing were powerful particularly to the Kriol.
This year there was no election of new officers and it was agreed for the current Board to be in place another year . Myrna Manzanares from the Kriol Council was selected to be an observer on the board.
The presence of representation from the Garifuna Council in Belize at the conference was very much missed, although, their representative on the board sent in the name of Cynthial Ellis to represent him. She was not present at the conference.
The other representatives from Belize was Ya Ya marin Coleman from UEF- she travelled by bus from Belize to Costa Rica. Harry Arzu who was sent by IDB, and Emmerson guild from the Venezuelan Embassy.
In the summary of the conference it was pointed out that we had much work to do in the Central American Region, and we need to decide how to make it work. A serious call was made for people on the coast to understand the importance of participating in the development of the their land as it will be worth a hundred times more in years to come.
It was also pointed the importance of Building capacity of black administrators and owners of community business; to be involved and use community based marketing and distribution of products to local and international bodies and the important of setting up connections to international bodies.
Proposal for CABO
The following proposals were set forward.
CABO 15th, GENERAL ASSEMBLY
University of Belize Campus
Myrna Manzanares' Impression of the CABO 2009 conference
Totally exhausted, body barely moving , -Satisfied
Because God sent the rain to signal his blessings on the deliberations and the resolutions that were made on this occasion
What a week one would say
What an awesome , challenging week
Awesome - to see the coming together
Of our afro brothers and Sisters from Central America in Belize
Awesome to see the dedication to a strong cause.
Awesome to be able to communicate through whan can be seen as a Language divide
Spanish, Garifuna English Kriol
Awesome, because despite all the adversities
The mission was accomplished.
Challenging - because of all the uncertainties From beginning to end.
Challenging - because of the clash of personalities
Challenging because of not being mindful
Of the choice of communication style
Which can often create conflicts
And challenging because of seeming disrespect for others
And negotiations agreed upon.
This was indeed an exhausting, awesome and challenging experience.
Irreparable ? No! Lessions learned? Many
So now is the time to really get to work
To analyze what could have been a regional calamity
With international implication
For the advancement of our people
What could have been a severing of ties
Causing irreparable damages to our image
And given credence to the perception
That indeed black people will forever
Be in mental slavery, even amoung their own
Yes this is a good time
This is the right time
The time is now to get back to the drawing board
To re-assess ourselves as Afro-descendants
To plan a multi-prong strategy
That will not leave anything to chance
The time is now to build our economic base
So that every group can share in the
Financing of their participation in the various activities
And let the business of CABO be to fill in the gaps
And to tend to the international fundraising and relationships
So that we can all benefit from the educational, social, cultural
Environmental , health and other programs negotiated for us.
AWESOME, CHALLENGING, EXAUSTING, SATISFYING
This Fifteenth General Assembly in Belize
One to be remembered and cherished
As the catalyst for truly moving forward – United for progress.
Myrna Manzanares ( December 5th. 2009)