“The dügü is a sacred ceremony and is not performed as entertainment for any audience. We find the announcement insulting …”
The Garifuna community is up in arms over what they say is the lack of consultation and inclusion of community leaders in a proposed project by Norwegian Cruise Line to set up a cruise port and destination island on Harvest Caye, a few miles from Placencia, Stann Creek. Not only are they decrying the fact that they have not been consulted on a decision to use the Garifuna theme for the destination island – they are also outraged over a proposal to use the dügü ritual for daily entertainment.
Robert Mariano, Senior Superintendent of Police and Southern Regional Commander, and National Garifuna Council (NGC) president, issued a short statement today saying, “The National Garifuna Council condemns the announcement by Norwegian Cruise Line and their agents to highlight the Garifuna culture, particularly our sacred ceremony, the dügü, as an attraction for tourists without as much as the courtesy of consulting with the leadership of our community.”
Mariano added that, “The dügü is a sacred ceremony and is not performed as entertainment for any audience. We find the announcement insulting and, while it may be well intentioned, [it is] indicative of arrogance and ignorance on the part of those concerned.”
As Amandala reported in our weekend paper, Hugh Darley, president and executive producer of IDEA Inc. of Orlando, Florida, is responsible for developing a unique “story” about Belize at the destination island – similar to what was done for Walt Disney, with which he once worked. At a press conference last week, he explained why the Garifuna theme was chosen:
“It’s the only place in the world we can tell that story effectively and be real. We are not creating a fantasy story; we are telling the real story, real people. We want to train and have people tell their own story. In the afternoon, we’re going to do a big drum circle out on the beach. At three o’clock in the afternoon, we will tell the guests, guess what? We’re going to do the dance called the dügü. Why? Because nobody ever gets a chance to see that. It’s like it’s the festival every day. So the idea is we’re going to tell that story and let that be our signage and our graphics and our color,” Darley said.
The NGC plans to issue a more extensive statement in the days ahead. According to Mariano, this matter will be further discussed at a scheduled meeting of the National Executive of the NGC this weekend after which a formal release will be issued.
The NGC is planning to hold a board meeting this Saturday, when it plans to formulate an official release for dissemination.
The subject has also caught the attention of Garinagu living overseas. Joseph Guerrero, Arts & Entertainment Director of the United Garifuna Association (based in the USA), issued a statement today saying that while they generally support the concept of celebrating the Garifuna culture, they want to ensure that the initiative will be done the right way—and they, too, agree that showcasing the dügü for entertainment is a no-no.
Guerrero’s statement said, “UGA supports the use of Garifuna Culture as a theme in the proposed port of call as it will create demand through marketing by NCL for our product,” but added that, “UGA also cautions that any use of Garifuna copyright must be, without question, approved by Garifuna. All copyrights involved including any related rights must benefit the Garifuna community. Any and all permissions for the use of Garifuna copyright, industrial designs or patents for commercial activities must support in a meaningful way the Garifuna community as an end result.”