Pen Cayetano is an icon in the Garifuna community. Pen, the patriarch, is a prolific musician and artist. His wife Ingrid and children have followed his footsteps in promoting and preserving the richness and uniqueness of the Garifuna culture. Today, at the Image Factory in Belize City, the Cayetano’s officially re-launched Ingrid’s “We Are Free” children’s book and an additional volume entitled “Wanaragua.” News Five’s Duane Moody was present for the release of the two publications.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Today, at the Image Factory in Belize City, Ingrid and her daughter, Mali officially re-launched Ingrid’s “We Are Free” children’s book and an additional volume entitled “Wanaragua.” The two books are overflowing with the rich cultural heritage of the Garinagu people. The first, We Are Free, was inspired by her husband, preeminent Garifuna painter and musician and founding father of Punta Rock music, Pen Cayetano. It features the journey of the Garinagu to Belizean shores.
Ingrid Cayetano, Author
“We Are Free is our first book we did; it was first released in 2010 and the second edition this year 2016. We were sold out and so we had to do another production. And we made a few changes in the colors and the background and we change a few words. So it is not a completely new book, but a nice printed book again, makeover. We Are Free is just telling you the origin of the Garifuna people; it’s the Garifuna culture that we are focusing on because well I am from Germany, but my husband is the master Pen Cayetano from Dangriga, the Garifuna icon and so on. So we grew up with this culture and although we lived in Germany for twenty years, we focused on Garifuna culture. So this book, the first book, We Are Free is telling you the journey coming from Africa to the Caribbean and later on to Belize. And you have three siblings—two brothers and one sister—and they travel with the bird, Dunulu and he is traveling with them all over the place and they meet an old wise woman; her name is Dah in the Jungle and she explains everything about their past and their heritage.”
Meanwhile, Wanaragua is exactly that…it is a fun and informative illustration of the traditional Garifuna dance that is well known in Belizean culture as jankunu.
“It explains itself; it’s about the famous jankunu dance the Garifuna people do around the Christmas time…Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the New Year’s Day. They have it right now in Dangriga, you can see them walking in the streets. And the story is the same brothers and sister looking for a costume to complete. They had a school fair and they had to go all the way to South America because the Garifuna people are a mixture of Arawak Indians, Africans and Carib Indians. So the Arawak Indians have all these parrots in the jungle and that’s why they travel that far to get the feather and then they had their costumes complete.”
Ingrid and Pen together have three children who live in Germany, Ingrid’s birthplace. They have all been immersed in the history and practices of the Garifuna culture, despite living in a foreign country. Mali Cayetano, an artist herself was the illustrator for the books.
Mali Cayetano, Illustrator
“Belize was always in me and around me and when I came here it just felt like home. So I love being here and I love to share the culture as well because I noticed in Belize there is no children’s book about cultures. So I loved starting this project and sharing it with everybody—not only children, but grown up people can read as well and share their experience to other people.”
“Would you say that these books would allow the preservation of the intangible culture?”
“Yes, I think so. It will help the culture to survive because we also have a few Garifuna words in the books so—explained of course; translation in English. And what I want to say too, both books were first written in the German language and then translated in English and we already have a Spanish translation. Hopefully, soon a Garifuna translation and then if we find somebody to sponsor us, we will have it published in different languages.”
Also on display was a collection of paintings by Pen and Mali Cayetano; the exhibit remains open until the end of the month. Musical entertainment was also provided by Pen. Duane Moody for News Five.
The book is available at the Image Factory, at the Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery, at the P.G.I.A. and various gift stores countrywide. The cost is fifty Belize dollars and it is also available online at www.amazon.com