Celebrations marking Garifuna Settlement Day took place across the country on Tuesday, marking the anniversary of the arrival of the first Garinagu to Belizean shores. Early in the morning there was the re-enactment of the migration from Honduras to Belize, and in the Old Capital this took place along the Haulover Creek from Birds’ Isle to just in front of the Belcan Bridge where Mayor Darrell Bradley, playing the role of the Colonial Governor, gave the arriving party the freedom to settle in the Jewel. Thereafter the parade moved to St. Martin de Porres Church for the official thanksgiving mass where Pastor Brian Christopher told the gathering that the lesson of Garifuna and Belizean history is one that works best with others and not alone. He also called for the Garinagu to expand their efforts to not only recovering, but developing their special cultural practices and teaching their survival strategy to the greater population. Following that it was the official parade to the ITVET Compound for official ceremonies. Along the route we spoke with president of the local branch of the National Garifuna Council, Francisco Zuniga, about the significance of November 19 for his people.
Mr. Francisco Zuniga – President of the National Garifuna Council, Local Branch
“This is important. This is over 200 years ago when the Garinagu peolpe first arrived to the shores of Belize. They were imported; they were shipped from their own home to Belize…all the way to Central America. Imagine that distance: Eastern Caribbean and they ended up in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and eventually, they traveled to Belize. so this is history. They were not even ready to be welcomed when they arrived here and I it can go further to say that when they arrived here, they were ‘curfewed’ . They were only allowed to remain in the south and they had to go in their house by 6:00 in the evening. So, then, the struggle, the fight and the achievement of the Garifuna people is something that we have to celebrate one and all”.
At the ITVET, guest speaker Darnelle Sterling, an assistant dean at St. John’s Junior College and noted educator, spoke in greater detail about the importance of this year’s theme, “Let Us Progress with God’s Goodness and the Protection of Our Ancestors.”