BELIZE CITY, Tues. Nov. 17, 2020– Thursday, November 19, marks the 218th year since the arrival of the Garinagu people to the shores of Belize. We all know the legendary tale of the arduous journey the Garinagu people made to flee the systemic efforts at eradication of their people and heritage.
Today, that heritage still lives on, stronger than ever, in numerous Garinagu communities across Central America. In Belize, we celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day countrywide, paying respect to this still striving indigenous culture, and its people, who have chosen to make the Jewel their home.
“Garinagu: úara, here; awansera asta lidan liderenouga. Garinagu. United and Strong, moving forward despite challenges” is the theme chosen for this year’s celebrations.
Typically, at this time, all roads would be leading to Dangriga, the Culture Capital, where the festivities would take center stage and oftentimes continue through the night, to the next day.
Citizens of all ethnicities, from all over the country and even persons from the Diaspora, would converge on Dangriga and the other Garifuna communities in the south.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent that sort of celebration this year.
The National Garifuna Council (NGC) announced that the celebration will be carried out virtually this year.
“СОVІD-19 hаѕ brought аbоut unрrесеdеntеd сhаngеѕ tо thе wау wе lіvе, wоrk аnd іntеrасt wіth еасh оthеr. Аѕ wе аrе quісklу аррrоасhіng thе mоnth оf Nоvеmbеr аnd thе аntісіраtіоn оf thе сulturаl ехtrаvаgаnzа lеаdіng uр tо thе rе-еnасtmеnt оf thе аrrіvаl оf thе Gаrіnаgu tо thе ѕhоrеѕ оf Веlіzе, Nаtіоnаl Garifuna Соunсіl hаѕ mаdе thе dесіѕіоn tо hоѕt vіrtuаl асtіvіtіеѕ,” said the council.
Since the start of this month, the NGC has organized various virtual events focused on highlighting Garifuna identity and awareness. The official launch of the November 2020 celebrations can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wihg_sCTWM.
Also, five “Jam Sessions” were organized, with Garifuna artists and entertainers performing original Garifuna music and dances for the virtual audience. The last one will be held on November 17 from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and will be live-streamed on the NGC official Facebook page.
Of note, a virtual panel discussion, entitled “Garifuna Chronicles: From St. Vincent to Central America, Perspective on Garifuna History,” was also presented on November 5.
This live event, which took place via a Zoom meeting, featured prominent Garinagu scholars who gave a stimulating account of the Garinagu’s struggle for freedom. This event can also be found on the NGC Facebook page.
On November 12, Garinagu Awareness Day was commemorated. A competition was held by the NGC, in which persons were asked to exhibit their traditional Garifuna attire. The five persons with the most “likes” and “shares” of their photo were given prizes. Some photos are featured in this article.
On November 14, the annual Battle of the Drums Showcase took place; this event took social media by storm and went viral, with thousands of viewers tuning into this virtual performance.
The Garifuna Music Festival took place immediately after this event and featured nine Garifuna bands and artists who delivered an explosive online concert on Saturday night, as well.
A tribute to the late Thomas Vincent Ramos, the Garinagu national hero, took place on November 15, and on November 16, a panel discussion, entitled “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Garifuna Communities and Economy,” was held via Zoom.
Today, November 17, a live event starting at 6:00 p.m. will focus on the Garifuna language. The session will highlight the origins of the Garifuna language and the history of the Gulisi Community Primary school’s interactive lessons. Presentations will be delivered by Sebastian Cayetano and Dr. Gwen Nunez Gonzalez.
On Thursday, November 19, the annual reenactment of the Garinagu’s arrival to the shores of Belize will take place as a virtual event for the first time in its history.
The NGC is asking all citizens to wear masks and follow all COVID-19 prevention protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus. The NGC made the decision to host its events virtually to prevent any further infection among local communities.
This year’s celebrations, although untraditional, are focused on Garifuna identity, spirituality and perseverance.
Hafedu Garinagu 2020!!! Happy Garifuna Settlement Day.