by Kristen Ku
DANGRIGA, Stann Creek District, Wed. Nov. 22, 2023
Belize marked another celebration off its cultural calendar this past weekend with the celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day on Sunday, November 19, in a number of different Garifuna communities in Belize; nowhere was it as big as in Dangriga, dubbed the culture capital of Belize.
This year’s Garifuna Settlement Day attracted an especially large contingent of visitors of not only Garinagu but Belizeans of all ethnicities from across the nation and from the diaspora, as they converged in the major Garifuna population center of Dangriga for this year’s massive celebration.
The theme, “Wamúa, wanichigu lubá ámuñegü: óundaruni hama nibureintian lun labagaridu Garifuna lárigi bían san irumu ya Balisi” – translating to “Our Land, Our Culture, Our Future: Involving Our Youth for Garifuna Survival After 200 Years in Belize” – resonated deeply with the community’s commitment to preserving their unique culture for future generations.
The highlight of the celebration was the Yurumein, a reenactment of the Garinagu’s historical entrance into Belize by canoe which not only commemorates their past but also puts emphasis on the ongoing journey of the Garinagu people in preserving their heritage. The parade that followed through the main streets of Dangriga was an awesome sight, prompting observers to comment that Main Street had never before been so full of people for any event in the town’s history.
History has it, that their journey to Belize began in 1802, with a small group from Honduras, followed by the mass arrival of 500 Garinagu led by Alejo Beni on November 19, 1823.
It was Thomas Vincent Ramos, a revered Belizean community and civil rights activist, who pioneered the celebration of the first Garifuna Settlement Day in 1941, and gained its observance as a public holiday in the southern districts of Stann Creek and Toledo in 1943, two years after its introduction. Garifuna Settlement Day gained national holiday status in 1977, indicating the country’s recognition and celebration of its multicultural heritage. (Photos BTB)