Saturday, November 18, 2006

Garifuna Settlement Day

"Iunraha Wamei Irisini Higiru Wayunagu Waba" means "Lets Uphold the Values left to us by our Ancestors" in the language of the Garifuna. Its BRUKOUT time on Caye Caulker and in all of Belize on November 19. This commemorates the 174th anniversary of the Garifuna people landing in Belize. Garifuna Settlement Day started as a national and bank holiday in 1943 with big celebrations, drumming, traditional food, and dancing. This weekend we're also celebrating Neice Rosanna's big four oh and MY birthday with a family celebration. I'm actually a turkey baby, born the day after Thanksgiving, but I'll use any excuse to party. The photo above is part of the early dawn (Nov. 19th) ceremony where a reinactment takes place of the landing in Belize.

We'll be drinking Pantyrippers, a delicious combination of fresh pineapple juice and coconut rum over crushed rice and eating traditional foods like fish seri and hudut. Fish seri is a spicy stew with a coconut milk and white achiote base poured over dumplings made of grated and boiled green and ripe plantains.

The Garifuna originated from the Yellow Island Caribs who occupied the Orinoco Basin in Venezuela, South America. In 1220 the Caribs invaded and conquered the islands in the Lesser Antilles and parts of the Greater Antilles and intermarried with the Arawaks. This mixture gave birth to Island Caribs.

In 1635 African slaves were shipwrecked in the islands near St. Vincent. They intermarried with the Island Caribs; this resulted in the birth of the Garifuna. The Caribs and Garifuna populated these islands but soon after encountered many conflicts with the Europeans. The Garifuna strongly resisted European control, maintaining the tradition of the earlier Caribs. They fought against the Spanish, British and the French. The Europeans had guns and were eventually able to overpower them and they were forced to move to the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras.

In 1832, many Garifuna left Honduras after a civil war there and settled in Dangriga, Belize on November 19th. They were led by Alejo Beni. Between 1832 and 1900 the Garinagu in Belize consolidated their settlements and spread from Dangriga to Seine Bight, Monkey River, Punta Negra, Punta Gorda, Barranco, Livingston, Hopkins and Georgetown.

The Garifuna have their own language, music, dance, food and religion and are very distinc from any other culture in Belize.

This year, Pen Cayetano, Belize's most famous Garifuna painter and musician, along with his wife Ingrid, is having an exhibition at the House of Culture in Belize City. Its titled Ubagari or Life Art. The centrepiece of Pen’s collection is called “Belize 2005” a rendering of the civil disturbances that rocked Belize.

Delvin “Pen” Cayetano, Artist
“These pieces that I brought along is mostly about what happened the other day among the cultural and political movements that happened last year, 2005. And I did also some paintings pertaining to the deaths of the kids in Belize as well as Garifuna paintings and historical paintings like the landing of Lindbergh. For the total exhibition here, I want to show the people here that yeah, life is not a dream, it’s a hard reality and we are passing through it right now.”

Check out this link to hear music samples from Andy Palacio, Belize's most famous and accomplished Garifuna musician.


Mary Beth said...

Great Post!! How's your hang-over? Tehehe! You have helped me to solve my Christmas gift-giving dilemna. I will buy an Andy Palacio CD for Griff's collection. Oh, and have a happy birthday and a happy thanksgiving day. MB

cream said...

Great insight into something quite new to me!
Lovely music too!

Guyana-Gyal said...

When I read stuff like this, I feel life zinging through me, I want to draw, paint, write, be a part of that creative energy.

I've read about that music, I hope I can hear it on your link.

Caribbean Colors said...

Check out this link sponsored by the Belize Tourism Board