The culture capital, Dangriga Town saw hundreds of Belizeans and visitors converge in its municipality over the weekend to celebrate the one hundred and eighty fourth year since the Garinagu arrived in Belize. Representatives of both main political parties were present for the celebration and for the official ceremony Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke of the dynamic and vibrant Garifuna culture.
“And on this day it gives me great pleasure to record once again the fact that of all the multiple strands that make up the national Belizean culture none is more dynamic, none is more vital, none is more vibrant or richer or more life affirming than the Garifuna culture. That is why I consider it such a tremendous privilege to be able to join you once again here in Dangriga to celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day. On behalf of the government of Belize and all Belizeans I pay maximum tribute not just to Alejo Beni and TV Ramos and Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Heroes past and present but to all Garinagu. To every Garifuna man woman and child making up the great Garifuna nation which in turn is so important and a part of the great Belizean nation.”
Prime Minister Barrow went on to speak of the significant contributions made to Belize by the Garinagu and in the process, spoke of several commitments being made by the Government of Belize in an effort to maintain the richness of the culture.
“Last year I was able to offer a significant contribution to the Gulisi Community Primary School dedicated to the all important endeavor of the teaching of the Garifuna language. This year after a wonderful visit that I had with the National Garifuna Council government was able to commit to an increase of subvention to the NGC in order to help it embark on full time service to the Garifuna Community. We were also able to help with the acquisition of the lot in the nation’s capital earmarked for the siting of an office for the Belmopan Branch of the National Garifuna Council. I publicly reiterate my promise to Ms.Cynthia Cayetano of the Belize City Branch that government will help to fund the extension of the Gulisi teaching program to the old commercial capital of Belize City.”
In closing his address at the official ceremony in Dangriga, Prime Minister Barrow noted, quote, “it was indeed an epochal historical moment when the Garinagu first came to Belize and our country has ever since been so much richer and so much the better for it.” End of quote. The Garinagu first arrived in Belize in 1832. With the push from Thomas Vincent Ramos, November 19 was declared a holiday only for those in the southern districts in 1943 and thirty four years later, in 1977 it was declared a national public and bank holiday in Belize.