Publisher — 21 November 2011 — by Evan X Hyde
I totally enjoyed Jerry Enriquez’s article on the Garifuna teachers who were the pioneers of Roman Catholic education in rural Toledo, and British Honduras/Belize as a whole.
In his article in last weekend’s issue of this newspaper, Jerry pointed out that it was a Fr. W. A. Ulrich, S.J., who had led the construction of the San Antonio Catholic Church building with which I was so impressed on my visit to Toledo in August. One presumes Fr. Ulrich has passed, but I will give him big public respect on the sole basis of that church building. I judge a man by his works.
Again, the photograph Jerry Enriquez sent of several Garifuna teachers taken in 1936 in Punta Gorda at a Catechist Training Retreat brought back many memories to me of Garifuna students at St. John’s College. These would include Wellington and Anthony Labriel, Alexander Ogaldez, Marion Paulino, and Philip Zuniga, all of whom, I presume, would be the children of those teachers.
I also remember that the Church used to have a hostel on the New Road side of its Holy Redeemer School compound which housed students from the districts. Of the students there, I remember my friend Greg Arana (deceased), Harry Servio and Callistus Cayetano.
As a Creole child raised as a Roman Catholic, I never learned to discriminate against Caribs. All of the Caribs I knew at St. John’s College were fellow Catholics, so I judged them by their academics, and how they played basketball and football. Wellington Labriel in particular was a hero of S.J.C. students because of his football prowess.
I think it would be good for Anglican and Methodist Creoles to look carefully at what the British did to the Caribs in St. Vincent. The exile on Balliceaux was the equivalent of an attempt at genocide, as was the deportation to Roatan in 1797. If I remember Mr. Sebastian Cayetano’s figures correctly, 5,000 Garifuna were sent to Balliceaux, where half of them died. Of the rest, several hundred perished on the voyage to Roatan. The survivors are the progenitors of the Garifuna nation of today, which numbers many hundreds of thousands in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, the United States, and the rest of the world.
It was, then, the same British Empire which attempted genocide against the Caribs, which accepted them into British Honduras a couple decades later. This was because the British had use for the Caribs in Belize as a weapon against the Creoles.
But, there are many prominent Creoles who are so British in their thinking that they prefer to continue discriminating against the Garinagu rather than examine the treachery and perfidy of their beloved British.
Considering their unique and painful history, we have to understand why the Garifuna have fought so hard to maintain their identity, their consciousness, and their culture. These were means of survival for them, and they believed that their children and all their descendants should be taught and always remember how close they came to extinction.
If you have not read Jerry Enriquez’s article, please read it, and try to learn as much as you can about the exile to Balliceaux and the deportation to Roatan. You need this for your education as a Belizean. Power.