An Explosion of Garifuna Culture

Drums, dancing, food, art, education and traditions… – commemorates the Garifuna culture in celebration of the 204th anniversary of the arrival on November 19th, of the Garinagu to Belizean shores. Originally celebrated only in southern Belize, today the celebrations are spread throughout the country. November 1 marked the official start of the celebrations with a multitude of events aimed at keeping the culture, traditions and the achievements of the Garinagu alive in the hearts and minds of Belizeans and visitors alike.

For many Belizeans “Garifuna” is synonymous with the “waist winding” rhythm of the contemporary Punta rock music- a product of modern musical instruments blended with the traditional beat of the primero (percussion) and segundo (bass) drums. Ubiquitous at healing ceremonies, spiritual rituals, wakes, parties and celebrations, the drums, accompanied by vocalists telling of the history, folk tales traditions and personal stories of the Garinagu, are very much a part of daily life in many Garifuna towns and villages in southern Belize.

However, the Garifuna culture offers so much more including vivid art depicting the history and culture; and rich cuisine made with exotic combinations of coconut milk, fish, ripe and green bananas and plantains, cassava and assorted ground foods. Within the Garifuna culture, a deep reverence for the spirits of ancestors lend themselves to intricate healing ceremonies called “dugus” which exist alongside active participation in the organized Christian religions. (The senior Roman Catholic bishop of Belize, Rev. O.P. Martin, is Garifuna, hailing from Dangriga.)

The annual celebrations of for Garifuna Settlement Day are spearheaded by the National Garifuna Council and include activities such as:
  • A National Garifuna Social Studies Quiz contest
  • National Solidarity Mass
  • Miss Garifuna Pageants
  • A Symposium on Inter-Cultural Education
  • Annual Punta Fest
  • Art Exhibitions by renowned Garifuna artist, Pen Cayetano
  • Battle of the Drums (drumming contest)
  • Fisherman’s Festival
  • All night drumming and dancing on November 18th
And on November 19th: This year the theme is:

Wabaraoungoun Meme Larigi 25 Irumu

"After 25 Years, We Continue To Move Forward"

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Images courtesy of:

  • Tony Rath Photography

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