Every year on November 19th Belize pays tribute to the Garifuna of
this country by celebrating Garifuna Settlement Day. Leading up to this,
Garifuna ladies from communities throughout the country compete for the
prestigious title of Miss Garifuna. The winners then move on to compete at the
national pageant, which will be held on November 3rd, 2001 this year.
The San Pedro Garifuna Council has announced October 20th, 2001 as the date for the Miss Garifuna
San Pedro Pageant. Headed up by a past Miss Garifuna, Mrs. Julia Martinez, this
strictly cultural contest will take place at Central Park. The young ladies will
showcase their traditional dresses, dances and will display scenarios of their
lifestyle. Some of the dances portrayed by the four contestants will be Paranda,
Chumba, Punta and Hungu Hungu. The four ladies participating in this year's
pageant are Arainee Swaso, Berthalinda Melendez, Ella Carr and Eden
Arainee Swaso is an eighteen year-old
business student at San Pedro High School. She is originally from Hopkins
Village, Dangriga but moved to this island two years ago. After completing her
secondary education, Miss Swaso hopes to pursue a career in accounting.
"Throughout this pageant I will speak in my native tongue only so as to show our
younger Garifuna the importance of preserving our culture," stated Miss Swaso.
The second participant is Miss Berthalinda Melendez. Miss
Melendez is twelve years old and originally from Honduras. She is presently a
student at San Pedro Roman Catholic School and enjoys dancing and helping with
the family chores. Berthalinda hopes to pursue a teaching profession. "I
recognize that I am a Garifuna and I am proud of my roots and hope to share this
with the audience during the pageant," Miss Melendez told the San Pedro Sun.
Fourteen year-old Ella Carr is a
sophomore at San Pedro High School whose origins are in Stann Creek District.
She is a very active young lady who enjoys playing basketball. She hopes to
continue her education, eventually leading into a nursing career. Miss Carr
feels that this type of pageant is very important as it serves as a promotional
tool for the rich Garifuna culture.
Eden Velasquez is
thirteen years old and is presently a student at San Pedro Roman Catholic
School. She enjoys playing football and swimming, and hopes to become a teacher
in the future. Miss Velasquez says that two of her sisters have already competed
in this pageant and this is what prompted her to take part this year.
The general public is invited to join the Garifuna of San
Pedro and be witness to a wonderful celebration. More information on the pageant
and the Garifuna Settlement Day Celebrations will follow in upcoming issues of
the San Pedro Sun.