Garifuna Settlement Day Festivities begin

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 45            November 16, 2006

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Councillor Joseph Elijio played the marracas to the melodic beat of the drum.

The Garifuna committee will host several activities during the week, one of which is the reenactment of the Garifuna’s arrival to Belize through sea.

Music and dance together with their extraordinary language, traditional clothing and art all make up the Garinagu identity.

The most important day in the Garifuna calendar is November 19th. On this day, Garifuna Settlement Day, is celebrated for a whole week, and includes parades, live music, drumming, dancing, prayers, Garifuna mass and the anticipated election of Miss Garifuna. In San Pedro, the Garifuna Committee in keeping with the tradition is hosting several events to commemorate their day. On Monday and Tuesday, the festivities kicked off with a melodic display of the beating of the drums. The men, holding both the Primero and Segundo drums, and Marracas, showcased their skills and love for their culture. With the drum beating, the women pitched in and put on a show for those gathered. The paranda, Abaimahani and punta brought several participants to try and out do each other with a variation of movements. A milder version of this dance is the Hugu-Hugu involving the singing of sacred rhythms by Gayusa in unison. Dances are a common form of expression in the Garifuna culture. On Wednesday, a Garifuna Awareness Day at the Central Park was held where they featured a Hudut and T-Shirt sale, and of course drumming. Thursday and Friday, the Garifuna committee will be making door to door visits at some of the resorts on the island. On the eve of the holiday, Saturday, a mass by Reverend Robert Palacio will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by a food sale at the Central Park. Later in the evening, the Queen will make her arrival and the official opening ceremonies which will include speeches from; Belize Rural South Area Representative, Honorable Manuel Heredia Jr., Mayor Elsa Paz, Culture and Sports Councilor Pablo Ico, San Pedro Garifuna Council President, Joseph Elijio, and Mel Spain. At 10:00 p.m. the festivities continue with a Punta Contest which will take place, followed by a “bruk down” bashment. On Garifuna Settlement Day, the activities kick off at 10:30 a.m. with the drumming of a beat, a food sale and entertainment at the Park. At 5:00 p.m., the committee will re-enact the Garifuna’s arrival to Belize. Then, a procession will depart from the Old Football Area through the Boca del Rio cut and will finish in front of Central Park. Be sure not to miss out on these events! Music, dance and story telling, together with their extraordinary language, traditional foods, clothing, art, handicrafts and natural medicines, all come together to form the Garinagu cultural identity. The Garinagu have embraced Belize as their home and have contributed greatly to what Belize has now become. On behalf of the San Pedro Sun and the community, we wish you all a happy Garifuna Settlement Day!
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