Friday, November 19, 2010

The Garifuna Cultural Legacy: Alive And Well

Wed, November 17, 2010
"We Continue to have many Aspirations; In Unity We Advance" is the theme under which this year's Garifuna Settlement Day is being celebrated. This observance spans over a two-week period and includes the selection of Ms. Garifuna 2010, drumming, dancing and re-enactments.

And while all things Garifuna dominate Belize's polyglot cultural spectrum, what about the next generation? Well judging from what our team saw at Christ the King Anglican School in Dangriga this morning, the Garifuna cultural legacy is in good hands:

Andrea Polanco Reporting
Today in the Culture Capital, Dangriga, we got a preview of what the town will be like in the next two days. Leading up to the 19th, Garifuna Settlement Day, Christ the King Anglican held its Annual Garinagu Open Day which started out with the traditional "Yurumei" which is the re-enactment of the arrival of the Garinagu to Belize:

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"What he said this morning Andrea was the re-enactment of the arrival of the Garinagu, it all started from St. Vincent when they were driven away from there, so were left on the island of Bali Sol where they died because the place was mountainous and nothing could be grown there and others travel on, some ended up in Honduras, Nicaragua and the rest came to Belize. When they came to Belize they found one Thomas Vincent Ramos who negotiated with the governor at that time that we get this day 19th of November as a day set aside for the Garinagu."

Andrea Polanco
"That was a very long journey. How did they survive along the way?"

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"I suppose they brought along their food stuff, if you notice they brought culture along with them and with culture you have the language, the clothing, the food, everything that goes along with it. They brought their food stuff so as soon as they got here they were ready to farm and they were ready to fish."

Andrea Polanco
"So when they came in this morning they were singing some beautiful Garifuna songs. Tell me what's the significance of some of these songs?"

Francine Lucas, Teacher
"Oh, that song that you heard, it's a song explaining just came from St. Vincent, we are here from St. Vincent, the land of our ancestors."

And since they left St Vincent the culture and traditions continue to live on but to make sure that they do, events like these help to keep it alive:

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"We are in the Garifuna belt and for our children to be better educated knowledgeable of the customs and practices of the Garifuna we decided to showcase it so that they can learn it from home and then take it out because we call school home."

Andrea Polanco
"I know Garifuna Settlement Day is highly anticipated across but particularly in Dangriga, dub the cultural capital of the country, is this event that the school children look forward to with as much anticipation?"

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"Yes they do and this had been our 4th annual Garifuna open day that we have had."

This long anticipated Annual Garinagu Open Day is the fruit of planning and presentation by teachers and students since August. But the work paid off as the presentations highlighted the Garinagu Culture at its best:

Carol Brackett Young, Principal
"Each class has a presentation to do, infant 1 was doing dance and music; infant 2, customs and beliefs of the Garifuna, Standard 1; clothing, standard 2; artifacts. well this years has been one of the greatest for us because the 1st year we just had it at a local level, we invited just the 2 neighboring schools and this year we have guest artists as you have seen, we have the children doing different performances, we have our school choir, our school band, so we have it much more greater this year."
And it was certainly great as some of Dangriga's very own artistes entertained by some of Dangriga's very own Garifuna artists:

And you know, if you don't get to see some Punta then your're not in Dangriga.
"From North to South, East to West, Stann Creek wish the whole entire Belize a happy and wonderful Garifuna Settlement Day."

"Happy Garifuna Settlement Day Belize."

Christ the King Anglican Primary will also be participating in other Garifuna Settlement Day activities in Dangriga.