The series of Constitutional Marches continues this weekend. After drawing massive crowds in the last three districts, the Stann Creek District will host the event on Saturday. Here is community activist Douzie Ifan-yeh-chineke with details.
[The parade starts] this Saturday at 3 o’clock, by the Drums of Our Fathers [Roundabout]. Then we’ll walk right through the streets and end up at BTL Princess Royal [Park] where we’ll have the official ceremonies. The guest speaker will be no other than Attorney and Community Activist in the name of Miss Audrey Matura Shepherd.
She will look at the legal and the Constitutional aspects of the Gender Policy 2013. She will break things down for us to understand. Then secondly, she will take the 2002 Gender Policy and compare it with the 2013.So she will take both of them. Then she will break then down for us to understand. Everyone is invited. Come, and I’m encouraging you to bring a paper or book and pen or pencil. It is our sincere hope that this rally will be informative, and it would be educational. The thing about this one too, it is from a communal standpoint or approach. That’s what’s so unique about it.
Mr Ifan-yeh-chineke emphasized that it’s not a church rally, but a community rally, where they plan to show their opposition to the National Gender Policy 2013. He expressed though that members of the community believe that a particular media house has been insulting their stand on the Policy – saying that they simply don’t understand the document and instead are just being used as pawns. Not so, he argued; they fully understand its implications and want to be included in the discourse.
It is my understanding that there is a particular media house that is going to the extent of insulting the intelligence and integrity of the Maya people, because they’re saying that the Maya people do not understand, as if they are being used as pawns in this process. I mean, for any radio station or any media house to go to that extent is really unfortunate. I’m sure they can say the same about every other ethnic group in this country.
That is not how we were raised. It’s the same thing how I felt with a Maya brother that I met on Monday this week. I’m sure that the same thing can be said to the Maya people and their language.
Garinagu are the premier educators of this country. We are naturally intelligent people. So we have a problem with it. There’s a natural problem with it, and shouldn’t we be entitled to have the right to say that this thing goes against everything that I am and what I stand for. It is against our national character as a people.
According to the National Garifuna Council of Belize, about 15,000 Garinagu live in Belize, representing a significant amount of the total population. However, the Policy, says Ifan-yeh-chineke, does not consider their belief system, but comes in direct conflict with it. He explained.
I have been sitting down with my elders, both men and women, and talking with them about this Policy. We recognize that this Policy is written in English. Let’s be clear on that. it is written in English. When you look in the Garifuna language, there is no such word as gender or sexual orientation. It’s very important that I come here this morning and point this out.
In Garifuna the word is wügüri meaning “It’s a male.” Wügüri – male. Würi – female. So there is no such thing as gender, just male and female. Then in terms of this thing called sexual orientation, it doesn’t exist in the Garifuna language. So this is what we are saying, if you take this thing and translate it from English to Garifuna, you have a major problem
Again, the march begins at 3:00pm this Saturday at the Drums of Our Father Monument to the BTL Princess Royal Park for an evening rally.