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next page Please tell us where and in what year were you born? What was it like as a child growing up in your hometown? How has the town/district changed since your youth?

Emory King: I was born 22nd February, (Washington"s Birthday), 1931 in Jacksonville,
Florida. I was soon orphaned and was raised by my grandparents. The Great Depression was in full swing when I was born. The middle-class neighborhood was in decline; many people had lost their homes and the properities were becoming rentals.

In spite of all that I had a wonderful childhood. There was little crime, the people around us felt we were all in the same boat and therefore helped each other when necessary.

Just before I was 11 World War II came to the USA. Suddenly there were jobs and money in Jacksonville. The shipyards along the St. John's River multiplied and military bases mushroomed. It was an exciting time for a youngster, but not dangerous.

I wanted to be a chemist, but failed algebra in junior high school and that shut out the natural sciences for me. Of the social sciences, I chose to be a writer. Being bone lazy I figured this was the only way I could earn a living sitting down.

I graduated from high school in 1949 and went off to Florida State Unbiversity where I majored in journalism. After that I went to Tampa, Florida where I became a crime reporter for the Tampa Daily Times. It seemed so exciting.

In six months I was sickened and disgusted with crime reporting. It was nothing like the movies or the detective novels. You do not meet the best people in that line of work.

About this time I met four fellows who were going to sail around the world. I figured every young writer should sail around the world, at least once. I was 22 and too green to burn, so I quit my job and went with them. We sailed out of Tampa on November 1, 1953. When did you first come to Belize, under what circumstances did you arrive and personally become involved with the concerns of the people of Belize?

Emory King: After visiting Dry Tortugas at the end of the Florida Keys and Havana, we went to Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico. A wind storm pursued us from there to Isla Mujeres. Two weeks there and we went south. Passing Cozumel I asked the captain where we were going next. He said Belize. I said I'm tired of Mexico. He said Belize is a town in British Honduras.

I had never heard of British Honduras. On a beautiful moon-light night in December, 1953 our yacht ran up on a reef of staghorn coral at English Caye. The Lighthouse Keeper from the caye, a Mr. Ely, and his sons soon got us off the reef and around in the lee of the caye.

We did not sink. The next morning we limped into Belize. What an exotic, wonderful place. In addition to that, the people spoke English!

The boat required a whole new bottom, which virtually bankrupted us. Later, when they decided to have the boat towed back to Florida behind a rusty old tramp steamer, I decided not to go. I couldn't swim and did not want more ocean excitement.

A kindly lady told me perhaps I could get a job teaching at St. John's College, a Jesuit High School. The Superior of the Jesuit Mission said no, he did not need another teacher. He needed a Public Relations Officer and Director of Alumni Affairs.

So, there I was at 22 a thin, frightened boy of Protestant background, suddenly the PR man for a Catholic Mission in Central America. Wow.

In the next two years I traveled the Colony, visiting Catholic schools in every District, town and village, and meeting everyone who was anyone from British Colonial Civil Servants to mulecart drivers.

The Movement of Liberation had begun three years before and was headed for Independence. I was facinated by the idea of a group of people wresting freedom from the Mother Country, just like the American Revolution--but without the bloodshed. I did all I could to help. What do you consider to be the primary challenges for the people of Belize in the 21st century?

Emory King: The same things that challenge every society in every age throughout the world - food, clothing and shelter, education, health, defense, and spiritual guidence to survive. What are you doing to educate the youth of the country of Belize regarding the challenges facing them?

Emory King: Not as much as I would like. I write for the newspaper weekly, (sometimes weakly), I lecture on the history of Belize to students, tourists, potential investors and retirees. However, because of political problems I am not asked to lecture to students as much as would be good for them. I have written many books on the history of Belize, but they are politically unacceptable to the politicians. Perhaps the next generation will benefit from them. How will the current governmental fiscal restraints challenge the people of Belize?

Emory King: The financial problems of the Government will be solved one day. In the meantime no one entitled to a pension cheque from the Government has failed to receive it; no one entitled to a Social Security cheque has failed to receive it.

The amount of cars running on $8.00 a gallon gas keep on rolling and increasing every month. Houses are being built in every village, town and city. All will be well. Can you tell us a highlight to date of your life spent in Belize?

Emory King: Take your pick:

I was instrumental in bringing the Mennonites to Belize in 1958. They have brought about a revolution in agriculture in the country.

I brought the first movie, "The Dogs of War" to Belize in 1980. That led to "The Mosquito Coast" and others as well as hundreds of television shoots.

In partnership with Net Vasquez I brought the first private Earth Station to Belize in 1980, although I am not sure how proud I should be of that. It started the television business in Belize and you know how bad it is and how potentially good it could be.

I introduced Michael Ashcroft to the proposal of the Royal Bank of Canada to sell off their branch in Belize in 1987. This turned out very well. Michael has done nothing but good for Belize since then, in spite of what politicians and jealous people say.

I was instrumental in bringing the first hydroelectric plant to Belize at Mollejon in the Mountain Pine Ridge in 1990. Can you tell us a highlight of your personal life that defines who is Emory King?

Emory King: Meeting George Price in 1954. Becoming a Catholic in 1955. Meeting
Elisa Deogratia Vasquez in 1955 and persuading her to marry me in 1959. So many things shape a person's life. Picking out one is impossible for me. Having an occupation as 'The Film Commissioner of Belize' as well a noted published writer and newspaper correspondent, obviously occupations that are demanding both mentally and physical, what do you do to keep in shape?

Emory King: Nothing. I am bone lazy. I do not exercise. I do not push myself away from the table. I do not smoke since 1995 when the doctore told me to quit after 50 years of smoking an average of 5 cigars a day. I don't drink any more. I don't drink any less--Irish whickey if I can get it, Chivas Regal Scotch if necessary. What is your favourite past-time occupation?

Emory King: Reading and researching Belizean history. What was it like to be associated directly with the hugely successful movie 'Mosquito Coast' that starred Harrison Ford and no doubt brought the world to Belize?

Emory King: It was a delight. Harrison was great guy and so was his wife, Melissa. Everybody treated me very well and treated everyone in Belize very well too.

I asked the Government for the second time to appoint a Film Commission to promote Belize as a place to make movies, but they said no, the movie people know we are here now and they will come. It was 8 years before we got the next picture. Despite the fact that you have been the visionary behind the film industry in Belize, during the 2005 Belize Film Festival held in February at 'The Bliss Center', you were noticibly absent though you are the embodiment of the industry in the country. When our attending correspondent questioned the festival spokesperson, she declined to comment. What is your current relationship with the filming industry today in Belize and why were you absent?

Emory King: I had and have very serious reservations about the Film Festival, but I agreed to Produce the first two. I feel that Belize should promote a film indusrty in Belize to do two things: One, create jobs for Belizeans and Two, bring hard currency to the country.

The Director of the Festival is of the opinion that the festival should concentrate on Third World films and works done in the Caribbean and Central America.

My view is that they have no money, they are not coming to Belize to make pictures and they will not provide jobs for Belizeans. They have their problems and we have ours. Let Belize concentrate on getting Hollywood, Pinewood and Canadian film makers here with their stuff. That will, in addition to everything else, fill the seats at the Festivals. The Director and I came to the parting of the ways. What do see to be the future of the film industry in Belize?

Emory King: I am afraid it is going to be tough. The tragedy of 9/11 frightened Hollywood about going overseas. They may be getting over that now, but Canada has started offering such extensive tax advantages to Hollywood that poor Belize hasn't much of a chance.

In addition, and worse, the present political situation in Belize , because it is broadcast over the internet every day, has sent shock waves throughout the film industry, not only in the US and Canada, but UK as well. This goes for TV production as well.

We know that all of this is a propaganda war and that nothing much has happened here, but the internet reports have scared off a lot of potential film shoots.

So, we soldier on, trying to calm the fears and regain the three or four shoots a month we had before the G-7 fiasco. What is the greatest outdoor adventure you have ever experienced in Belize?

Emory King: I don't have outdoor adventures. I prefer indoor adventures. What is your most favourite Belizean food dish? What are your most favourite locally grown fruit and most favourite vegetable?

Emory King: Porterhouse steak from Running W Meats with mushrooms. Fruit: mangoes, vegetable: cho cho. Have you ever had the luck to see any of Belize's exotic wildlife such as a jaguar, tapir or the like? Have you ever been bitten by a scorpion, snake or spider?

Emory King: I suppose you don't mean jaguars, tapirs, etc.inside the delightful
Belize Zoo? No, I don't go where they live. I was bitten by a scorpion once. It was hidden in a towel in my bathroom. I killed it. Although the Belize Maya have many archaeological sites, in your opinion, what are the historically significant sites in Belize for the Kriol or Garifuna people that should receive more focus and attention?

Emory King: The Graifuna have been very good at promoting their culture at home and abroad among themselves and to strangers. They have a memorial statue and park near Dangriga.

The Belize Creole history goes back long before the Garifuna, but only recently have any attempts been made to glorify it. It's coming, but it will take more time and more research. Which of the Maya archaeological sites in Belize have you visited? Which site was the most fascinating for you??

Emory King: I suppose I have visited all the sites in Belize and I am left cold by them. I am not hostile to them, but they leave me uninterested. I don't know why. They are good for tourism. What are the top three books we should all read in our lifetime?

Emory King: "The Source" by James Michner. This will give the reader an in depth
review of the development of western civilization.

"Belize, 1798--The Road to Glory" by Emory King. The book which could lay to rest the canard that the Battle of St. George's Caye was a myth! It will give the reader an idea of the people who lived here, loved here and stayed here to lay the foundation of our Independence.

"The History of Christianity in Belize--1776-to-1840" by Wallace Johnson. A comprehensive research of how the Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches got started in Belize. The author quit before the Catholics arrived. Who would be on your list of favourite Belizean artists, writers or musicians? Who would be on your list of favourite non-Belizean artists, writers or musicians? What kind of music do you like to listen to?

Emory King: Artists: Pen Cayetano, Carolyn Carr, Mr. Nicholas; Writers: Zee Edgel, Sir Colville Young, Emory King; Musicians: Pen Cayetano, Andy Palacio, Sir Colville Young. I don't pay much attention to non-Belizean artists, writers or musicians. My favourite music is from the 70s - not the 1970s - the 1770s. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, Händel etc. How would you answer the question, "What is Belizean Culture?"

Emory King: There is no such a thing as Belizean Culture. There is Garifuna Culture, Creole Culture, various Maya Cultures, Mestizo Culture, East Indian Culture, etc. Every year when we send girls off to International Beauty Contests we have the unsolvable problem of creating a national dress. Belize is so ecologically diverse with abundant natural beauty. What do you consider to be the most beautiful spot in all of Belize?

Emory King: There are so many. What is your favourite vacation spot outside of Belize?

Emory King: I don't take vacations either inside or outside Belize. What would you consider to be the greatest asset of Belize? What do you consider the biggest challenge for Belize and Belizeans in the 21st century?

Emory King: Our greatest asset is our English-speaking people who have been educated in Church schools and who are determined to make Belize a better place to live. Their biggest challenge is to see to it that the political and spiritual values of our past are not destroyed. You are a long time author of major books regarding life and culture in Belize. Are there any current projects that you would like our readers to know are forthcoming??

Emory King: I am finishing my 15th book - a booklet really - which will be called "The George Price I Know" It is my recollections of my personal experiences with The Father of Our Country plus a number of letters written to each other. Belizeans have always been intrigued about the events surrounding the Hurricane of 1931 that so devastated Belize City. What can you tell us about you knowledge of the actions of the British Government the day the hurricane struck Belize City??

Emory King: The Governor and a number of British Colonial Officers, plus a few prominant Belizeans knew of the storm coming on the 10th of September 1931. They decided among themselves to not tell the people.

It was a holiday with thousands of adults and children ready to march in parades, but no official announcement was made. Over 2,000 were killed. What is your opinion regarding the current political tensions in Belize that have gone so far as to have the opposition call for the resignation of the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Said Musa?

Emory King: The Opposition in any Commonwealth Country which operates under the Westminister system is ready (theoretically) at a moment's notice to assume
the reins of government. Our Opposition really thought that the Government was in such turmoil that it could stampede it into resigning. They were wrong.

Fortunately, the whole thing quieted down before there was any bloodshed or deaths. Property damage was serious, but not extensive. Unfortunately, the media deliberately made such a hullabullo about it that the rest of world believed we were on the verge of complete collapse. We recently noticed that your property and home are for sale. Are you planning to leave the country that you have called your home for so many years and if so why?? If you are not leaving, why are you selling your beautiful home??

Leave Belize? Never!!!! A few years ago I bought a cemetery lot at Lord's Ridge Cemetery for $7. I certainly have no intention of leaving Belize and losing my real estate investment in the cemetery lot.

When we built our home about 23 years ago there were 7 people living there: my wife and I, our two sons, her mother and father and an adopted son of theirs. They are all gone now excpet my wife and I. We have 4,000 square feet under roof on two storeys with 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. In addition there is a house for our yardman on the property. The land amounts to five acres.The place is just too much for my wife to handle. I am going on 75 and my wife is almost 70. It is time to build a smaller place. What would you most want someone reading this article to remember about what a one Emory King has to say?

Emory King: Belize is English-speaking and part of the British Commonwealth, and is a democratic Christian country. If that ever changes Belize will be no more.


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