President of the National Garifuna Council (NGC), Robert Mariano, has declared open Garifuna Week 2012, a highlight of which will be T.V. Ramos Day to be observed on Tuesday, November 13, 2012, with a memorial to the founder of Garifuna Settlement Day, who continually urged productivity among his people and who for decades lobbied for the formal recognition of Garinagu contributions through the declaration of a public and bank holiday.
Despite that major milestone which Belizeans join in celebrating each year on November 19, “something has gone wrong…”
Sebastian Cayetano, a founding member of the National Garifuna Council’s branch in Belize City and the owner and manager of Luba Garifuna Museum in Belize, highlights the plight of Garifuna males, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, who, he said, are not being as productive as they should be.
“Something has gone wrong and unfortunately, with men doing less and less of the work and the mothers doing more and more of the work. I don’t know why this is but it has to change because hard work is good…” Cayetano urged. “It gives a man self-respect when he brings something home to the family,” he said.
Children need to see the men in their community working hard, Cayetano stressed.
“We need to get our men skilled, because our women are going there, and going there strong,” said Cayetano, a junior college teacher, who also points to a huge disparity in the schools, where women are pushing more than men to attain higher education.
He also said that the technical and vocational institutions located across the various municipalities are “underutilized.”
“It may be that they are not motivated and if they are not, why are they not motivated to do something for themselves?” Cayetano questioned.
Garifuna youth need to emulate their role models, he urged.
The Garifuna leader also said that many Garifuna villages are poverty-stricken, and there are hardly any income-generating activities. The solution, he said, is setting up cultural enterprises.
“We have to become entrepreneurs and that should begin at school,” said Cayetano.
The Garifuna drum, guitar and maracas could be packaged and sold; Garifuna arts and crafts also sell, he said, pointing to the success of Dangriga’s Austin Rodriguez and his family who make drums. Garifuna clothing can also be sold, he said.
“We need to start, even if it is to start in a small way and we build up on it,” said Cayetano.
Most of all, he pointed to cultural foods such as hudut, darasa, bundiga and sahou. Some of these foods will be available at stalls set up to commemorate Garifuna Settlement Day.
Cayetano said that he gets angry when somebody comes from Cayo with 5 BBQ grills and 3 deep freezes to Dangriga and barbecues for three days, on November 17, 18 and 19, and laughs all the way to the bank on the 20th. Somebody could be making that money by selling Garifuna foods in the Culture Capital, Cayetano said.
This year, the Belize City celebrations will be held at the MCC grounds, where Garifuna foods will be on sale.
The Luba Garifuna Museum, located at 4202 Fern Lane, Belize City, Belize, will also have food on sale.
Speaking at the start of Garifuna week on Sunday, NGC president, Robert Mariano, noted that the Garinagu cannot allow this moment to pass without doing their own reflection about where they have been as a people and how they can move forward.
He also said that Garinagu must remain mindful of the value of good citizenship and demonstrate honesty and loyalty.
(Mariano’s comments courtesy KREM News.)