The Garinagu People:
Belize is a nation composed of diverse cultures, each contributing a unique flavor to the nation’s rich heritage. From the Northern Districts of Corozal and Orange Walk Yucatec Maya Mestizo strongholds to Toledo and Stann Creek home of the Mopan, Quechi Maya and Garinagu people.
The Garinagu people make up 6.1% of Belize’s population and are known to have contributed to Belize’s development as an Independent Nation.
A Historical Odyssey: It all began in 1802
The story of the Garinagu people begins in the Caribbean. They are descendants of West African and Indigenous Arawakan and Kalinago people who were exiled from the island of Saint Vincent by the British in the late 18th century.
This year they celebrate the 221st anniversary of their arrival on the shores of Belize and settled along the southern coast, with prominent communities such as Dangriga, Hopkins, and Punta Gorda.
The Garifuna Settlement Day: A National Celebration
The heart and soul of the Garinagu culture can be experienced by many during the annual celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19th observed as a Public and Bank Holiday in Belize. This year the celebrations are being observed under the theme, “our land, our culture, our future, involving our youths for Garifuna survival after 200 years in Belize.”
Every year on this date their descendants celebrate with an “Yurumein” or re-enactment of their arrival in 1802. Some activities that take place include crowd parades and a honouring of all things traditional.
Dancing to the beat of the drum, calling of the conch and turtle shell
The Garifuna people are renowned for their traditional dances. Habinahan Wanaragua, also known as Jonkunnu, recently won the Cultural Experience of the Year at the Belize National Tourism Awards.
The celebrations come alive with the vibrant Habinahan Wanaragua dance. This dynamic performance is a mesmerizing spectacle that tells stories of the Garifuna heritage through movement and music.
The Rhythms of Life: Bowing down to the Calling of the Caribbean Sea
The Soulful Rhythms of Andy Palacio and Garifuna Collective The Garifuna music is known for its hypnotic beats and soulful melodies. Artists like Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective have significantly contributed to Belizean and global music.
Their songs, like “Watina,” “Lidan Aban,” and “Weyu Larigi Weyu,” are not to be missed. Many local clubs dance the night away with these soulful beats even before the official celebration. Music beats can be heard by passersby from miles away within Dangriga town, Hopkins, and Punta Gorda town.
If you’re a food lover, Belize’s Garifuna cuisine is a treat you can’t miss. Rich and flavorful, it’s a fusion of African, Indigenous, and Caribbean influences. The Garifuna cuisine is a true delight for your taste buds.
Sample dishes like hudut , Sere a type of chowder, and cassava bread with homemade cashew nut dip dishes are not only delicious but also an insight into the Garifuna way of life.
A Linguistic Inheritance
The Garifuna language, known as Garifuna, is an essential part of Belize’s linguistic tapestry. While English is the official language, Garifuna is widely spoken in Garifuna communities. It’s a living testament to Belize’s multiculturalism, showcasing its commitment to preserving and celebrating its diverse ethnicities.
The language, a UNESCO-recognized masterpiece, is a testament to the cultural diversity of Belize. It represents a living connection to the Garinagu’s heritage. Find books written in the Garifuna language at a local gift shop during your Belize Escape.
Belize’s Authentic Experiences:
The Garinagu people have enriched Belize with their history, music, dance, food, and language. By immersing yourself in their culture and celebrations, you can truly appreciate the unique contributions they have made to this diverse and fascinating nation.
Whether you’re a history buff, a music enthusiast, a foodie, or simply curious about the world, the Garifuna culture of Belize offers something for everyone. Join the celebration on Garifuna Settlement Day at our jungle lodge!