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Garifuna Settlement Day - What I learned Over Thanksgiving

December 1, 2015

I grew up hearing my parents speak Garifuna, a dialect spoken in Honduras in addition to Spanish. I have always asked curious questions about Garifuna culture and history, but this year in my late (late) 20's I learned of , Garifuna Settlement Day....for the first time! I am embarrassed to say this but at the same time attribute the new found knowledge to this Afro-Latina Beauty project. Here is some of what I learned:  

 

Garifuna Settlement Day honors the heritage of the Garifuna people, a unique ethnic group in the Caribbean and Central America. Our ancestors were Nigerian captives, who were sent in 1635 from West Africa to the New World to work on plantations and in mines. They were shipwrecked off St. Vincent Island, an accident that offered freedom to those who survived. Those who reached the island were taken by the Carib Indians, who were of South American origin but had lived there for some time. Intermarriage gave rise to the Garifuna, individuals that combined the spiritual and artistic traditions of Africa, The Caribbean, and South America.

 

The Garifuna got along well with the French settlers who arrived later in the 17th 

century, but when the British came, there was friction. Warbroke out, and the 

Garifuna and their French allies eventually surrendered to the superior British forces 

in 1796. The Garifuna people were then exiled and imprisoned on another island, 

Baliceaux. More than half of them died there. Those who survived were moved again the following year. Packed onto ships under appalling conditions, they were sent to 

Roatán Island, near the coast of Honduras. Released in Roatan, they quickly settled in Honduras, establishing fishing villages and taking up their former lifestyle.


In 1832, a civil war caused many Garifuna, to leave Honduras and settle in Dangriga, 

Belize.  They arrived there on November 19th. In 1941, the date was declared “Garifuna Settlement Day” in Dangriga by Thomas Vincent Ramos, a community leader. In 1943, Garifuna Settlement Day was declared a bank and public holiday in the southern districts of Belize, it is now celebrated throughout the country. Activities often include a reenactment of the landing of the Garifuna in boats. There may be Thanksgiving masses held in Catholic churches, followed by long sessions of traditional drumming and dancing. Garifuna crafts and food are sold and displayed. Events to raise awareness and appreciation of Garifina culture are common including dressing in traditional clothing, a Miss Garifuna Belize beauty pageant, parades and rallies.

 

 

The Garifuna Flag:

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