A Celebration of Culture, Music, and Heritage in Dangriga
Garifuna Settlement Day: A Celebration of Culture, Music, and Heritage in Dangriga
In Dangriga, the vibrant heart of Belize's cultural landscape, the Garifuna Settlement Day on November 19, 2023, was not just a day of festivity but a profound showcase of history, culture, and youth empowerment. Marking the 221st anniversary of the Garinagu's arrival in Belize, the celebration embraced the theme “Our Land, Our Culture, Our Future: Involving Our Youth for Garifuna Survival After 200 Years in Belize.”
The day commenced with the traditional 'Yurumein' ceremony, a re-enactment of the Garinagu's historic arrival. The Garifuna, a people of mixed African and indigenous descent, first arrived in Belize on November 19th, 1802, in the town of Dangriga. This significant date is now commemorated as Garifuna Settlement Day, a national holiday in Belize. Later, in 1832, another group of Garifuna arrived in Belize, led by Alejo Beni. The Garifuna established themselves along the southern coastline of Belize, maintaining their unique culture and language
One of the highlights of the celebration was the vivid and dynamic Habinahan Wanaragua dance, an award-winning performance that encapsulates the spirit of the Garifuna culture through its rhythmic movements and storytelling music.
Music played a pivotal role in the day's festivities, with the soulful sounds of traditional Garifuna songs like “Watina,” “Lidan Aban,” and “Weyu Larigi Weyu” echoing through the streets of Dangriga. These songs, rooted in the Garifuna heritage, offer a deep connection to the past and a celebration of the present.
The event also offered a taste of unique Garifuna cuisine, showcasing the delightful fusion of African, Indigenous, and Caribbean culinary influences. In terms of education, schools in Dangriga and other parts of Southern Belize have been instrumental in embedding the Garifuna culture into their curriculum through various activities, ensuring the continuation of these rich traditions.
At the community level, the importance of cultural preservation starting from home was emphasized. Parents play a crucial role in instilling Garifuna traditions in their children from a young age.
Garifuna Settlement Day in Dangriga in 2023 was a vivid reminder of the enduring efforts to preserve a rich cultural heritage and empower the youth. It was a day when history, culture, and music came together in a magnificent display of community resilience and pride, offering an inspiring glimpse into a culture that continues to shape Belize's unique identity.
Feel like bringing the Garifuna music home?
Listen to The Garifuna Collective, a band known for its powerful blend of traditional rhythms with contemporary influences, added to the vibrancy of the celebration.
Blog Photo Credit: Belize Tourism Board (Instagram)