The Garifuna Settlement Day Celebration
by Juliette Marin
The Garifuna Settlement Day Celebration is currently celebrated through the British Honduras Government and Mr. Thomas Vincent Ramos, there by granted in 1948 to be celebrated by the southern districts only Dangriga, Seine bight, Hopkins, Punta Gorda and Baronco. We celebrated the arrival of the ancestors on the coasts: The celebration is the re-enactment of the Garinagus, which are the garifuna people. We migrated from St. Vincent to the main land of Central America. We did not want to become slaves, that is where the saying “Garifuna never conquered” comes from, so we fled by little boats called Dories. My fore fathers decided to settle in Dangriga Town. We made our living by means of farming which included: cassava, banana, coco, plantain and fishing.
The celebration starts at 4:00 am on the 19th day of November. We would go back out into the river in the Dories and paddle back into town waving our beautiful yellow, black, and white flag. Then we start drumming all sorts of cultural songs: for example, the hugu hugu, which is our spiritual dance, the jankunu, which is our victory dance, the punta, which is our joyful dance and the gunjay, which is our festival dance.
First is the arumahani which is when the elders start by leading us with the hugu hugu, the spiritual song to the church for our religious ceremony. Immediately after, we parade toward the cemetery to give thanks and respect to all the ones who died on our way to our victory land Dangriga. This means we set some food aside, pray and then bury it.
Second we start the real joyous part of the occasion. We parade and dance from the north side to the south side starting with the gunjay, the festival dance next we shift to the jankunu, the victory dance and finally the punta, the joyful dance at this time we dance freely and enjoy ourselves as we head to our final destination for the rest of the day the eleho Bene park.
Our Independence Day celebration is now a public and bank holiday in Belize City and the rest of the seven districts. It is also celebrated every year in the United States: in New York City, Chicago Illinois, and California by the Garinagus that reside there. As a matter of fact, we are getting ready for a celebration as we speak next month. It will take place on the 14 day of November at Carver Middle School located at McKinley Park 4410 McKinley Ave starting at 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and a dance immediately after at 54th street and Vermont Ave at the Plum Tree Dance Hall. You are all invited please come celebrate and have a good time with us.
Los Angeles: (Monthly) Join GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY GROUP - GARIFUNA ORGANIZATIONS OF LOS ANGELES. "Be a partner in spreading the word about our culture. Live the dream of Chatuye and Thomas Vincent Ramos. We need you today. Don't wait for tomorrow for tomorrow will be too late. We meet on the 2nd Sunday of each month. Remember, 'Divided we fall, United we stand.' " For information call: 323-234-8202
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Volunteer for Everybody Wins! LA Program at Figueroa Elementary
My name is Jaimie Mancham-Case and I am the Mayors schools coordinator for Everybody Wins! LA. We are currently looking for students to join our program and be volunteers to students at Figueroa Elementary School .
Everybody Wins! LA is a national non-profit that has recently been hailed by the White House as a “hidden gem.” We have university students or corporate employees and lawyers go into Elementary schools to read with children once a week during their lunch time. These children look upon these “role models” and “mentors” highly and the program helps to increase a love of reading and literacy.
We would be really interested in partnering up with Southwest College and having some of your students read with our children as they are excellent examples of people for our youngsters to look up to. Please let me know if there is a particular group that you think would be interested in volunteering or if you are having any sort of volunteer fair.
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