Garifuna artist James Lovell is hosting the first of its kind, Garifuna Nursery Rhymes Workshop, to be held at the Gulisi School in Dangriga from Tuesday, July 1, to Saturday, July 5, followed by a Garifuna Nursery Rhymes Concert, to showcase what the children have learned from the workshop, at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 6, at the Princess Royal Park.
“The Garifuna Nursery Rhymes Workshop will be an intense music workshop that will introduce/teach the children/participants popular nursery rhymes in the public domain, but this time the nursery rhymes are translated into the Garifuna language,” Lovell said.
He said that he will use a bilingual approach, since the participants will sing in Garifuna and English.
The children will commit to memory 10-15 Garifuna nursery rhymes over 5 days, he said.
According to Lovell, the Garifuna Nursery Rhymes Workshop is accepting children ages 7 to 12 on a first-come, first-accepted basis. They can host a maximum of 100 children of any ethnicity — Creole, Maya, Kekchi, East Indian, Chinese, Garifuna, etc.
Lovell said that in 2005, Clifford Palacio and his wife, Rita Palacio, first introduced him to the Garifuna Nursery Rhymes idea as a learning tool.
“After introducing Garifuna Nursery Rhymes to the children of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Yugacure, (Yugacure.com) 2012 and 2013, I saw how the children were absorbing the Garifuna language by learning the lyrics in the nursery rhymes,” Lovell added.
“As a concerned Garifuna, I thought, I can bring the Garifuna Nursery Rhymes Workshop to Dangriga, my hometown, and hopefully make it an annual workshop that will assist in some way to remedy the fact that the Garifuna language is endangered and is considered at the verge of extinction,” Lovell explained.
He hopes that the children who attend the upcoming workshop will take home a sense of pride in learning about the Garifuna culture through music.
“They will be able to sing a couple of songs, if not all the nursery rhyme songs, in Garifuna,” he said.
Lovell also hopes to infuse Garifuna history into the workshop activities, so the participants will also learn about the origin of the Garinagu and present issues that the Garifuna nation presently faces.
Lovell said that this new initiative connects with work he has done in the past.
“I have worked with Garifuna-American children in New York as the musical director for Illagulei, (Roots) – a Garifuna performance company based in New York from 1995-2005. I have facilitated Habinahan Garinagu 2005 and 2008 in Belize and in New York. I have also facilitated Yugacure 2012 and 2013 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. All these activities are mainly to retrieve/reclaim the Garifuna language through music,” he revealed.