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The NGC Speaks on Activities for Garifuna Settlement Day

The Garinagu of Belize today marked Garifuna Awareness Day and tomorrow, the nation marks Garifuna Settlement Day. In the spirit of the occasion, we spoke to representatives of the National Garifuna Council about activities marking both days. The NGC’s national secretary, Sheena Zuniga spoke about some of the events leading up to tomorrow.

Sheena Zuniga, Secretary, NGC: “Celebrations have been going really well. We’ve had very good views, positive comment from our viewers who joined in to our discussions. I think one of the events that a lot of people enjoyed was our panel discussion last night about the Garifuna language preservation that was supposed to be a two hour session but it ended up being a three hour session because it spoke a lot of about the culture and our needs as a culture and what we want to do moving forward.”

Reporter: And sort of a follow up to that you said that there was this panel discussion just sort of summarize for me what were some of the prevalent issues that came up in that discussion.”

Sheena Zuniga, Secretary, NGC: “Some of the issues that came up is that our young people are no longer identifying as being Garifuna and they’re not speaking the language and they don’t have interest in the language so one of the things that we’re working on is to see how we can reach out to our youths and get them active back and to appreciate the Garifuna culture again because it’s not just only dancing, music, partying it’s more than that. Tomorrow is awareness day as Mel previously stated and we’re encouraging all Garinagu to wear their Garifuna cultural attire or the black, white and yellow colors to identify as a Garifuna and we encourage all work employers to allow their employees to wear their Garifuna outfit it’s just to show your awareness of their identity.” 

Melissa Zuniga, the NCG’s Project Coordinator explained why both days are important to the Garifuna communities across the country.

Melissa Zuniga, Project Coordinator, NGC: “These activities show that we are a proud and resilient people. So the Yurmein which takes place on the morning is the reenactment of the arrival to the shores. So it shows that we came when when we got here to the shores of the settlement we had our provisions, we brought along our music, we brought along our implements and it shows that after over two hundred years we are still here and so that is very significant for us and it also shows or demonstrates the pain of us having to leave St. Vincent to come all the way to a new land without knowing what would have happened. Additionally the mass highlights our spirituality. We are connected to our ancestors and we have embraced and adapted the other religions so that is what the mass signifies and it’s celebrated in the Garifuna language so our songs, our music, is also showcased there.”

The theme for this year’s celebrations is ‘I for You, You for Me’ Is the Garifuna Way; Let Us Move Forward’.