Belize Celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day for the 74th Year History recalls that in 1832, a group of Garinagu people were led to Belize by a charismatic and ambitious Alejo Beni. In 1941, thanks to the well celebrated Thomas Vincent Ramos, Garifuna Settlement Day would become a public and bank Holiday and the historic arrival of the Garinagu to Belize would be celebrated for the first time on the 19th of November in the Stann Creek District. Today, 74 years later, it is celebrated in 8 different communities country wide, including Dangriga, Belize City, and Belmopan. After years of oppression that forced them into exile, the Garinagu have become one of the most celebrated cultures of the world, even going as far as being named a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2001. This year’s Garifuna Settlement day is being celebrated under the theme “God is the Strength of All things- Garifuna Progress Lies in Education and Hard Work.” National Secretary for the National Garifuna Council and Secretary for the Belmopan Branch, Gwen Nuñez Gonzalez, spoke to us about this year’s celebration.
Gwen Nunez Gonzalez, National Secretary, NGC: We have been having various activities in the different branches. Here in Belmopan we’ve had the Garifuna Social Studies Quiz. We hosted the Miss Garifuna Belize Cultural Pageant and also the solidarity ecumenical service. We’ve had our tribute to Thomas Vincent Ramos and other heroes and heroines and we had a motorcade because of the weather for a green clean ceremony. Today the 18th, we have drumming at Maygordon Park. That’s from 7 to about 1 thereabout. So who want to go and unwind, that’s the place to be tonight here in Belmopan. In Dangriga, we also have other activities under the shed. We have 2 main sheds in Dangriga, on the back of Ecumenical drive and on the St. Vincent St. and also at Y Not Island, there will also be activities and at different areas.
Gwen Nunez Gonzalez, National Secretary, NGC: It’s an awesome, heartwarming, it’s a overwhelming feeling because knowing the history about the exile and the sacrifice that they’ve had to endure to reach. And so when we reenact the arrival it moves you, especially when you see so many people along the bridge and the water bank and them coming in and you see all these people and the cheering and the drumming and the signing and, you just have to experience it to get the feeling. For us it’s very meaningful. I want to wish all Garinagu and all Belizeans a blessed and happy Garifuna Settlement day.
This year, official ceremonies for Garifuna Settlement Day will be held in Belmopan at the Mae Gordon Park. We wish all Garinagu a Happy Garifuna Settlement Day.