Dangriga saw thousands converge in that municipality in celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day celebration. An official opening ceremony was held at the Alejo Beni Park. Prime Minister Dean Barrow spoke on the importance of the Garifuna culture and its annual observation.
Rt.Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “The annual celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day is of the highest importance. It is important to Garinagu and the Garifuna nation. It is important to Belize and the Belizean nation and indeed it is important to the world. That is because culture, of which Garifuna values, history and rituals are a supreme embodiment culture is important to all human beings. It is culture that has encompassed the greatest achievements of our planet. Culture is therefore seen as one of the greatest global goods. But different cultures in a world that is now set to be flat are becoming too alike and high authentic culture such as that of the Garinagu is being encroached on, leveled and threatened with reductions and diminution of the onslaught of artificial appetites and ways of life so called mass culture. In this context the importance of activities such as today’s reenactment assumes added significance, becomes a touch stone in the preservation fight. The experts tell us that cultural values are learned, can be forgot and can be relearned. All that goes into the celebration of Garifuna Settlement Day thus helps all Belizeans to learn, remember and relearn the richness of the Garifuna culture. Anyone familiar with the history of the Garinagu knows that it is impossible to exaggerate their contribution to the development of Belize, to the enrichment of our national life. In education, religion, music, poetry, dance, language, agriculture and fishing among others the Garinagu stand out. There are outstanding Garinagu in all professions in particularly, in view of the presence of the Minister of National Security, in our security forces, in the police, in the army but in fact there are outstanding Garinagu in all professions and in every single walk of life.”
Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno was also present in Dangriga yesterday where he addressed the gathering. Briceno commended the Garinagu on their success in carrying on their cultural traditions and beliefs; something, he says, other cultures have found challenging.
Hon. John Briceno, Opposition Leader: “I am Mestizo Maya and it’s unfortunate that I never learned to speak the Mayan language. My grandfather did not speak Spanish, he only spoke in Maya. My mother spoke Maya and understood Maya but we never learned the language and today we have some people in Orange Walk like Mr.Jose Novelo Senior and Felecita Cantun who are trying their best to try to revive the language and the beautiful Mayan culture that we have lost. And what we are attempting to do is a thousand times more difficult than what you are doing here today. So I congratulate the National Garifuna Council for ensuring that we teach our young children the language. We cannot let this happen so I join with your leaders in begging you to speak Garifuna to your children. Mothers sing to your babies in Garifuna so that from early they can hear Garifuna words and be uplifted by the very sound of this colorful language. As for me and our People’s United Party we will continue to push for the teaching of Belizean History across the curriculum at all levels in all our schools.”
Festivities were also held in other parts of the country including Belize City, Ambergris Caye and the Toledo District.