On Wednesday official ceremonies commemorating Garifuna Settlement Day were held in Dangriga Town, memorializing the larger of two migrations of Garinagu to Belize, which landed on November 19, 1823.
The Garinagu, also known as Black Caribs, were exiled by the British from their homeland of Yurumein, now independent as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to the nearby island of Balliceaux, and then to the small dependent island of Roatan, Honduras, from which some made their way to the north-eastern Honduran coastline and eventually Belize.
While here they have become an important part of the fabric of modern Belize, and their contributions have been many.
Despite all of that they continue to face challenges, which inspired this year’s theme for the celebrations, “Let us not talk, let the work progress; God before us and we behind.”
President of the National Garifuna Council Robert Mariano, in his official address, commented on the issue of discrimination against the Garinagu which was made live earlier this year by First Caribbean International Bank, when one of its managers banned the speaking of Garifuna inside the bank’s premises.
Robert Mariano’s report also included news this week of a SICA-backed project to support Garifuna communities from Belize to Nicaragua, in the commercialization of agricultural production, particularly of the staple cassava, in order to safeguard food security.
Visiting dignitaries included guest speaker and Mayor of Santa Fe, Honduras, Isidro Noel Ruiz Martinez; Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca; and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Attorney General Wilfred Elrington, deputizing for the Prime Minister.
Earlier in the day there was the official re-enactment on the banks of the North Stann Creek River, and a church service at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church.
After the official ceremonies, a parade was organized from the outskirts of town into its center, ending at BTL Princess Royal Park.