When we last left the matter of the bust of Thomas Vincent Ramos, Garifuna hero, it was safely on display in Dangriga, but its creator Stephen Okeke was campaigning publicly in Belize City to be paid for its creation after former buyers the Thomas Vincent Ramos foundation backed out due to financial difficulties. He has only received $5,000 of the $35,000 owed him. Now, social worker, activist and proud Garinagu Abdul Marin Nunez has taken up the cause.
Abdul Marin Nunez, Activist/Proud Garinagu: My social conscience, and the fact that I am a Garifuna, and that TV Ramos is my National hero cannot allow me to stand by idly while this man Mr. Steven Okeke has not been paid for the work that he has done. If I am saying to young people that we have problems that we need to solve as an entire country we have not been able to solve a $30,000 debt. We are sending the wrong message. People will be coming here on the 19th of September to celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day with us from all over the world, and thanks to Mr. Steven Okeke we now have a bust that tells the story of TV Ramos, and we can’t pay the man? Let’s pay the man, and not casting any blame on anybody, I am simply saying Minister of Culture, if you have the money, get Mr. Steven Okeke paid. NICH, if you have the money, let’s get Mr. Steven Okeke paid. Citizens of Belize, let’s do a telethon, let’s do anything that is possible. I am prepared, and as I stand here to assist in any way that I can but this thing is embarrassing us Internationally with Belize as a people celebrating a day and can’t pay a man $30,000.
Marin Nunez told us that Belize is gaining a bad reputation internationally as a result of this dispute, and he believes that Okeke has shown the kind of proficiency to make similar tributes to the likes of the late Paul Nabor, the late Wilfred Peters, Florencio Mes and Leela Vernon among others. So what are his concrete plans for raising the money? Here’s what he told us. .
Abdul Marin Nunez, Activist/Proud Garinagu: Well that’s the reason why I came to KREM first. Because all it requires basically is for a radio station to take the mantle. We have a lot of volunteers that are ready to come and man the phones. We’re asking BTL to give us some phones and let’s do a telethon. Let’s do a fund raiser let’s do a bake sale let’s do anything, let’s just get Stephen Okeke paid so that the remaining young people of this country can see, that if I decide to be an entrepreneur and I do my own business and I get into sculpturing that I will get paid for my work.
The plans for the telethon are tentatively set for this coming weekend; Thomas Vincent Ramos died on November 13 and this date is annually commemorated among the Garinagu.