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Garinagu communities observe Garifuna Settlement Day

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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019. 3:37 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The call continues for the Garifuna people to preserve their unique culture in an era of assimilation as the celebrations of Garifuna Settlement Day this Tuesday go on across Belize.

In Dangriga, Prime Minister Dean Barrow announced that the Hummingbird Highway, presently being refurbished, will be renamed after consultation with Garifuna elders after a Garifuna hero, as he warned against the “mass culture” that has engulfed other ethnic groups and now threatens the Garinagu themselves.

At the same time, he commended the Garinagu people for their assimilation into the Belizean population and being able to stand out in all walks of life, and hailed the cultural melting pot Belizeans have made their own. “In building up the parts, we strengthen the whole,” he said.

The National Garifuna Council (NGC) received a cheque for BZ$100,000 from the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme implemented by UNDP, for a project entitled “Empowerment of the National Garifuna Council Towards Landscape and Seascape Stewardship.” 

Meanwhile, Dangriga Mayor Francis Humphreys deplored attempts to mar celebrations through crime following a murder Monday evening. He repeated that Dangriga and those who inhabit it are “unbreakable” and will not be cowed out of celebrating their history.

Here in the City, guest speaker at Lerisi Garifuna Restaurant is magistrate Dale Cayetano, director of the Family Court, who comes from a Garifuna family in Orange Walk Town, paid tribute to the enduring strength of his people.

Despite being less than 6 percent of the population, the Garinagu have excelled in service industries and professions, often without notice, he said.

On the matter of language, Cayetano recalls that his mother said that they should speak Garifuna at home, just as other children learned their language at home. Garinagu music represented by the likes of the Garifuna Collective (currently top of the World Music Chart,) Pen Cayetano and the late Andy Palacio is also key for preservation.)

Festivities continue throughout the day.


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