Garifuna Elders Fear Youths May Forget Their Roots and Culture

Yesterday the most important day in the Garifuna Calendar was celebrated.  Communities throughout the country came together to celebrate the Garifuna Settlement Day; the day was celebrated with parades, live music, drumming, dancing, prayers, a Garifuna mass and the crowning of Miss Garifuna 2013. The official ceremony was held in Dangriga Town; Love News was there and here is the report.

HIPOLITO NOVELO REPORTING:

One the eve of Garifuna Settlement Day, traditional joyous music emanated from the Garifuna drums and shakers accompanied by the rich cultural singing of the Garinagu along with rhythmic dancing.  The night brought continuous live cultural music which was mirrored by dances which holds special significance to the Garifuna Culture. The celebration is the 72th anniversary of Garifuna Settlement Day founded by Thomas Vincent Ramos. After a festive night, early morning on the 19th, as the sun was rising and the waves came crushing it, the re-enactment of the Garinagu’s first arrival in Belize was performed in front of eyes of many.  For many Garinagu, the day is seen as a joint opportunity to glimpse in the past, remember their ancestor and never forget their roots.

GILBERT SWASO (Dangriga Mayor)

“Our thoughts turn towards Joseph Chatoyer, our paramount chief; our thoughts also turn towards people like TV Ramos, Alejo Beni and others who fought to ensure that we are never enslaved and those who spearhead and led the sacrifice for our freedom and eventually our Garifuna Settlement Day.  These giants fought and led our people to a path of self-belief to an identity of hope and future.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

As decades have past, and the Garifuna Culture has grown in Belize and their contributions to the development of the country has been significant.

FRANCIS FONSECA

“Indeed the contributions of the Garifuna to Belize’s growth and development have been many.  Garifuna Settlement Day was given to us by a great leader and civil right activist, Thomas Vincent Ramos in 1941.  It was recognized as a public holiday here in the south and two years later in 1943, it was finally declared a national holiday.”

ANTHONY ‘BOOTS’ MARTINEZ

“There is a cliché that says, ‘progress brings problems’; while many of our experiences have proven such statement true, I believe that if any progress is sheltered under the umbrella of unity and built on the foundation of God’s goodness and ancestral protection, problems will be little or nonexistent.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO

“But a problem that the Garifuna Culture in Belize is facing in Belize in the decrease of interest to preserve the culture by modern day Garinagu.”

SR. SUPT. ROBERT MARIANO (Belize National Garifuna Council)

“Our ancestors have left us a rich legacy which we cannot afford to throw away in order to adopt a new one; many of our brothers and sisters have gone astray.  They no longer want to eat our food, dress in our traditional clothing, talk our language, dance our music or participate in the Dugu and other dances; as Andy Palacio asked in his song, ‘who will make our cassava bread?’  Who will participate in the Dugu?  Can we allow ourselves to lose what our ancestors fought so hard to leave for us?  We definitely cannot allow ourselves to do so.”

Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.