November 19th is recognized as Garifuna Settlement day and as the 19th draws nearer numerous activities are held countrywide in commemoration of that day; one of them is the Battle of the Drums held in Punta Gorda Town. Itís an annual event that started back in 2006 and features drumming groups from across Belize as well as from neighboring towns Livingston, Guatemala and Baja Mar Honduras. This yearís first place went to a group from Hopkins that has been participating in the competition for the past three years.

Member of Hopkins Lebea Boys
Every day we have been practicing after school because some of my band members are going to school, so we practice after school and even late in the night sometimes. Sometimes these girls leave their work to come practice with us and I just want to thank all the groups that did good. Trust me boss, I feel great, because I think I feel like I deserve this trophy for some time now and tonight I just want to thank everyone that came and supported us and everything went great.

The Battle of the Drums was initially coined by Darius Avila, a businessman of Punta Gorda Town and has been recognized as one of the yearly events that highlights the Garifuna culture. PGTV spoke with Avila after the event; and here is that interview.

Darius Avila

I feel energetic and proud for what we have been able to accomplish so far. This is for our culture, it is for our town, this for our district and Belize on a whole. I feel very good and positive about what we are doing. The Hopkins Lebea Boys have been coming for four years now and tonight they took it away. They initially placed third place and tonight itís like they came for the crown and they did what they had to do and they captured it. However, equally important are the second and the third place; they are our family and friends from neighboring Guatemala who came in second and from Honduras who came in third. They again have been coming with us for four years now as well.

Besides the drumming, dancing and singing presentations were done by local, national and international Garifuna performers. Paul Nabor, Mario and the Umalali Group also gave performances. Galen University was also present at this weekendís event.