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#477575 11/16/13 04:01 AM
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Tuesday is Garifuna Settlement Day, Belize's richest cultural observance. And today some schools across the city held cultural appreciation sessions despite the weather. Our team visited one such school - who welcomed us with some drumming, singing and dancing.

A SIMILAR ACTIVITY WAS HELD at Wesley Lower School where drummers got just the reaction they wanted when they asked the kids to get involved�

Channel 7

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With cooperation Garifuna Settlement Day celebrations could be less burdensome

By Wellington C. Ramos

In the United States of America there are several Garifuna organizations and individuals who sponsor events to celebrate the Garifuna 19th November celebrations to commemorate the arrival of our people to the country of Belize. Plus, the Garifuna people from St Vincent, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua have a different day to celebrate their day. In Belize, the National Garifuna Council is the organization that is vested with the power to conduct all activities on behalf of the Garifuna people in the entire country.

Due to this control and power that they have, other organizations and individuals have not come forward to conduct any 19th November Celebrations activities. The only other national Garifuna celebrations activity that I know of that is not under the control of the National Garifuna Council is the Battle of The Drums Contest that is held in Punta Gorda Town annually, which was founded and spearheaded by Darius Avila, a Garifuna activist. This event has been successful over the years since its inception.

For the organizations and individuals who have been engaging in having 19th November celebrations throughout the cities of the United States over the years, their experience is mostly a great financial loss due to competition among all the Garifuna organizations and individual sponsors. Why? Because many of these Garifuna organizations do not possess the financial and human resources to sponsor these events but are only doing it to showcase and promote their culture, while the motive for most individual sponsors is to make a profit from the activities.

Also, many of our Garifuna artistes are in it to make money for themselves and not to make a contribution to the preservation and promotion of our culture. I have been receiving complaints from people who are Garifuna and other ethnic groups that they would like to make a contribution and participate in the 19th November Celebrations in the city where they live.

However, there are too many Garifuna organizations having activities for the celebrations and they cannot contribute to all of them or attend all of their activities.

Three years ago, the United Garifuna Association Inc. of New York City, of which I am a part, got a Creole person to sponsor a 19th November Celebrations Dance. He spent about ten thousand dollars, mostly on the artiste, band and the hall. We did everything we could possibly do to make the dance successful. Despite all of our efforts he lost about three thousand dollars on the dance. I was trying to find a Garifuna person like myself to sponsor the event but did not find any. Since that terrible experience our organization has been reluctant to seek another sponsor to have a celebration dance.

Despite the strained relationship between our Garifuna people and other ethnic groups in our countries, we must stop assuming that all the other ethnic groups do not like us. If we have a cause and we need help we should reach out to all those who can help us with our cause. Yet, at the same time it will not be a good idea to make it a perpetual habit to depend on them to assist us with our causes.

I have now come to the conclusion that the way forward to have our celebrations throughout the cities in the United States is inclusion and cooperation. There will be some people who will feel threatened by this but with a memorandum of understanding agreement it can work.

We just have to have the copyright to the celebrations and the other organizations will be given their fair percentage from the profits and incur all the financial loss and liabilities like us. In the next few months, I will be making some recommendations to my organization with a proposal on how to move forward in a different direction. I will also consult other heads of Garifuna organizations in the city of New York and elsewhere to give the proposal serious consideration.

I am very grateful to my Garifuna people, other people from various ethnic groups and countries for bringing this problem to my attention. Once we work out all the details of the proposal and come to an agreement, there is a possibility that beginning next year we can have a series of 19th November Celebrations activities that will include and benefit all of our people and supporters. We cannot afford to be having failed activities every year because of pride and then need start up money over and over again to have events.

Happy 19th November.

Caribbean News Now

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Garifuna Drumming

Garifuna Flavor: Belize's Battle of the Drums

Although Nick Cannon may have convinced some people that competitive drumming is a�uniquely American institution, we’d like to show that you’ve been seriously misinformed. Take for example tomorrow’s Battle of the Drums, an international competition of Garifuna drum groups in Punta Gorda, Belize. The competition features eight groups from around the Garifuna diaspora, playing five different varieties of Garifuna music. Held annually since 2006, the event�is a part of the celebrations happening around Belize in honor of�Garifuna Settlement Day next Tuesday, Nov. 19.

The Garifuna people are descended from Caribs, Arawaks, and West Africans. This unique blend of cultures begins on the island of Saint Vincent. There, the story goes, two ships full of Ibibio people (from modern-day Nigeria) who had been sold into slavery were shipwrecked in 1675. They soon assimilated into the local Carib and Arawak communities, but as the English and French each fought to colonize the island, the Garifuna were exiled to Roat�n, off the coast of Honduras. From there, they eventually immigrated to mainland Central America, settling in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and of course, Belize. For more details, check out our article on�the interesting history of the Garifuna people.

Battle of the Drums

This tumultuous history has inspired a lot of really amazing music. The culture was even formally dubbed a (clear your throat for this one) “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO back in 2001. There’s paranda, chumba, and probably the most popular, punta�- just to name a few.

The Battle of the Drums competition aims to preserve each of these unique styles, as well as the dances that go with them. With groups from Honduras and Guatemala as well as Belize, the event brings together Garifuna people from around Central America to showcase their musical talents. And the dancing… well, you just have to see it to believe it. Check out a video below:

Although the Garifuna are a relatively small group in terms of population, they have a rich culture-one that you can also find around the United States. New York has the largest population of Garinagu outside of Central America, mostly in the Bronx and Brooklyn, while Chicago is home to a thriving community that includes the renowned restaurant, Garifuna Flavor.

If you’re looking to celebrate Settlement Day this weekend but can’t make it to Belize, Garifuna blogger Teofilo Colon has a solid listing of events around the country on his Facebook page�(I spy one in BK that looks like it’s going to be poppin). You can even celebrate Garifuna culture without leaving your house, courtesy of our friend DJ Rampage�(he also just happens to be Lauryn Hill‘s DJ), who made us an all-Garifuna music mixtape a few months ago. Listen, relax, and if you’re anywhere near Belize, definitely check out what is sure to be a wild night.


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The Garifuna Legacy

The SISE House of Culture is having Joshua Arana play tomorrow, Monday, November 18th, to celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day. The festivities start at 9:30am.

"Join us in the celebration of the living culture and Garifuna Legacy in Belize.. Live drum's by one of our greatest drummers in Belize, Joshua Arana... Live the momentum with us at SISE HOC"


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Belize observes Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19 in honor of the rich culture, heritage and history of the Garifuna people of the country. Festivities take place around the country under the theme "Let us progress in unity with God's goodness and the protection of our ancestors".

In San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, the San Pedro Town Council, in collaboration with the San Pedro Branch of the National Garifuna Council, Ministry of Tourism & Culture and the San Pedro Cultural Committee have prepared the following two events:

Monday, November 18, 2013 - Garifuna Settlement Eve Ceremony at Central Park - 8p.m.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - Official Garifuna Settlement Day Celebration Ceremony at Central Park - 11a.m.

Lebeha Garifuna Drumming Center, Hopkins Village

Sitting on the far northern end corner of Hopkins Village is the Lebeha Drumming Center where you can immerse yourself in a cultural experience second to none in Belize. You can watch, listen and participate in dance as you catch local Garifuna boys making music and sharing the culture of their ancestors. "Discover how to Be" Belize at the Lebeha Drumming Center.

Tomorrow is Garifuna Settlement Day - a public and bank holiday and the richest cultural celebration on the calendar. To set the mood, we close tonight with some clips from the Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of New York as they performed on Friday night at the Bliss Center.

Enjoy and Remember to join us tomorrow for live under 16 UNCAFD football starting at 2:00 in the afternoon, and on Wednesday night join us for an early start of the news at 6:00 pm.

Until then, have a great and culturally rich settlement day.

Channel 7

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The San Pedro Town Counil in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, the San Pedro Garifuna Council and the San Pedro Cultural Committee put together a line up of entertainment to celebrate the eve of Garifuna Settlement Day. At the event, we witnessed various remarks from Mr. Elroy Castillo, Deputy Mayor Mr. Guillermo Paz, Mayor Daniel Guerrero, Mrs. Julia Martinez and Mr. Francis Arana. The event followed with cultural presentations by a few local dance groups.

Members of the Garifuna Council of San Pedro visited the San Pedro Town Council and gave an outstanding performance.

Starting 11am at the Central Park

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National Garifuna Awareness Day observed in San Pedro

This year marks the 181st anniversary of the official arrival of the Garifuna to the coast of south Belize. Thus, November is marked as the month to honor and celebrate the country's vibrant Garifuna Culture. On Monday, November 18th, schools at all levels throughout Belize held activities to observe National Garifuna Awareness Day. In San Pedro Town, schools and other organizations held separate events encouraging students and local residents to dress in typical Garifuna outfits.

At the San Pedro Roman Catholic School (SPRCS), a Garifuna exposition was held as part of the school's activities. Featuring music, dance, food, clothing and history presented by the students of the upper division, the expo was colorful and entertaining. Several students were also dressed in traditional Garifuna attire, while different aspects of the Garifuna culture were on display at several booths. From food and their methods of preparation, to musical instruments; the entire atmosphere was filled a fun cultural experience.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see LOTS more GREAT photos in the San Pedro Sun

A Beautiful Morning for The Garifuna Landing, Music and Dancing in Punta Gorda, Belize
Today is a holiday in Belize - Garifuna Settlement Day to commemorate the landing of the Garifuna people in Belize. This morning we woke up EARLY to join the dawn re-enactment and parade to the Catholic church in Punta Gorda. It was pretty special. But since I am off in just 20 minutes, I'll keep it short for now and fill in the details. Here are some pictures.

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By Abdulmajeed K. Nunez

I am a West African
With a proud heritage of Islam
That was brought by Mansa Musa to the Caribbean
My history did not start in 1491-1493
But dates all the way back to dynasties
But let's start with the 13th century
I'm saying this publicly
To the NGC, who has been labelling we as a minority
When in fact we are a majority
Joined together by the Caribbean Sea

For years it was thought
That African and Amerindian was my ancestry by the NGC
Until uncles Van Sertima and Theodore Aranda set me free
And taught me my real ancestry
Of the Gwanini people from Mali
Who were conquerors of the sea?
Who came to the Caribbean in the 13th Century?
Long before Chris-teef-us Com-bus-us
Got lost in the Caribbean Sea

A century plus before Chis-teef-us
Got lost with the Pinta, Nina and the Santa Maria
Our ancestors were trading cloth and gold
This history we were never told
We taught the Mayan
Simple things like how to build pyramids
What we call in Belize Maya Ruins
Proof that we were conquerers is all over
There is even evidence in China
If that is not enough go to Lavinta
With stone heads with African features

My ancestors made many voyages for trade
And to top that off we even taught the Europeans to bath
Live in a house and use soap
I do not have to boast but this is unacceptable to most folks
Someone please take this message to the pope
But then again we would not want him to get a stroke
We should be suing for reparations
That's no joke!

Our favourite food is made with cassava
Some of us are farmers, fishermen and even hunters
Our favourite dance they call it the punta weh wi wine up
Wi waist and move up wi shoulders
So thanks Uncles Theordore Aranda, Ivan Van Sertima, Mrs Aranda
Sister Rebbeca and all those from Ligemerie Dangriga
For sharing the true knowledge of my ancestors
For the natural hair show and the tribute to the Garingu doctors

Caribbean News Now

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Though commonly referred to as "Garifuna", the people are properly called "Garinagu" and the culture and language are "Garifuna". The Garinagu are recent arrivals to Belize, settling the southern coast of Belize in the early 19th century. The epic story of the Garinagu begins in the early 1600's on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.

The Landing by Benjamin Nicholas
In 1635, two Spanish ships carrying Nigerian slaves floundered and sank off the coast of St. Vincent. The slaves that survived and swam ashore found shelter in the existing Carib Indian settlements. Over the next century and a half, the two peoples intermixed, intermarried and eventually fused into a single culture, the Black Caribs or Garinagu.

By 1773, the Black Carib was the dominant population of St. Vincent. But, European politics began to exert its influence throughout the Caribbean. A series of wars between the French and British on St. Vincent culminated in a final battle on June 10th, 1796, where the French and their Carib allies where forced to surrender and leave the island. Thus would start a journey by the exiled Caribs in search of a home.

The British deposited the Caribs on the island of Roatan, Honduras. Shortly after, the entire marooned population migrated to the mainland of Honduras and allied with the Spanish in the fortress town of Trujillo. Unfortunately, a brief civil war in 1832 found the Caribs on the wrong side and once again many were forced to flee to neighboring British Honduras.

According to tradition, the first Garifuna arrived in then British Honduras on November 19th, 1802. This day is now a national holiday in Belize celebrated with drums, dancing and pageantry. Today, there is one town in Toledo - Punta Gorda - that is considered a Garifuna town, and two Garifuna villages - Barranco (the oldest Garifuna settlement in Belize) and tiny Punta Negra.

Today, the Garinagu struggle to keep their culture alive. It is the devotion of the Garinagu to their roots which sets them apart from the other ethnic groups in Belize. While many Garinagu are professed Catholics, they have retained numerous traditions and rituals from their Afro-Caribbean heritage.

Garifuna Settlement Day
Central to the Garifuna community is the belief in and respect for the ancestors. The Garinagu retain their powerful spiritual connection with past generations of any family group through a ritual called "Dugu". A Spiritual leader called a "Buyei" or shaman presides over family members, who travel from all over the world to gather at the dugu meeting place called a "temple". No expense is spared as fresh seafood, pork, fowl and cassava bread are prepared for days of healing, dancing, drumming and communing with the spiritual world.

This spiritualism spawns a wealth of creativity among Garinagu in the form of music, dance and art. Punta Rock is a modern musical interpretation of a Garinagu cultural dance. The Punta dance accompanying the music - with its seductive movements and rhythmic beat - is Belize's most popular dance.

Another favorite dance - the "John Canoe" - is performed during the Christmas season. The dancer wears a mask which resembles an English face topped by a hand-made hat similar to the English naval hats of the 18th century. The dance displayed the skills of warrior-slaves while mocking their British overseers.

The traditional Garifuna colors are yellow, black, and white. Women often wear long dresses sewn from checkered material along with colored head pieces. Bright colors, distorted perspective and historical themes dominate the work of the many talented Garinagu painters. Hand made drums of cedar and mahogany, stretched with deer skin, continually pound the African beat in most Garifuna villages. Garifuna crafts include traditional cloth dolls, coconut leaf baskets and maracas made of calabash gourds.

Since 1943 November 19th has been a public holiday in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts called Garifuna Settlement Day. From 1977 November 19th has been a county wide public holiday.

In 2001 UNESCO declared the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance a Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

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Settlement Day '87

Garinagu Settlement Day 1987 in Dangriga, Stann Creek, Belize. A segment on Belize All Over, Great Belize Productions.

Garifuna Settlement Day 2013, Seine Bight

The holiday celebrates the settlement of the Garifuna people in Belize after being exiled from the Grenadines by the British army. I was particularly impressed with the guys that pulled the boats the whole way- about 1 mile.

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