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The Garinagu (singular Garifuna) are an ethnic group of mixed ancestry who live primarily in Central America. They live along the Caribbean Coast in Belizemarker, Guatemalamarker, St. Vincentmarker, Nicaraguamarker and Hondurasmarker including the mainland, and on the island of Roatánmarker. There are also diaspora communities of Garinagu in the United States, particularly in Los Angelesmarker, Miamimarker, New Yorkmarker and other major cities.

History

The Garinagu (singular Garifuna) are descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people. The British colonial administration used the term Black Carib and Garinagu to distinguish them from Yellow and Red Carib, the Amerindian population that did not intermarry with Africans. The Amerindians who had not intermarried with Africans are still living in the Lesser Antilles; Dominicamarker, St. Vincent and The Grenadinesmarker, etc.

In recent history, Garinagu have thrown off their British appellation and encourage others to refer to them as Garifuna (Garinagu-plural). The Garifuna population is estimated to be around 600,000 both in Central America, Yurumein (St. Vincent and The Grenadines) and the United States of America. The latter, due to heavy migration from Central America, has become the second largest hub of Garifuna people outside Central America. New York has the largest population, heavily dominated by Honduransmarker, Guatemalansmarker and Belizeansmarker. Los Angelesmarker ranks second with Belizean Garinagu being the most populous, followed by Hondurans and Guatemalans. There is no information regarding Garinagu from Nicaragua having migrated to either the East or the West Coast of the United States. Nicaraguan Garinagu are few. They are learning the Garifuna language and acquiring the different cultural aspects.

One of the earliest accounts of the ancestors of the Garinagu comes from the 17th-century French missionary Raymond Breton. Living on the island of Saint Vincentmarker in the 1630s, Breton recorded the Black Caribs' oral history of their migration from South America's Orinoco region. According to oral history, these Arawak-speaking people of the Orinoco came to St. Vincent long before the arrival of Europeans to the New World. They lived along with the Carib men. At some point, two Hispanic ships carrying enslaved West Africans on their way to the Americas arrived on the island. The enslaved Africans eventually integrated into the population, adding an African element to the culture.

When the British took over Saint Vincent after the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they were opposed by French settlers and their Carib allies. After a series of Carib Wars, which were encouraged and supported by the French, and the death of their leader Satuye (Chatoyer), they surrendered to the British in 1796. The British considered the Black Caribs enemies and deported them to Roatánmarker, an island off the coast of Hondurasmarker. In the process, the British separated the more African-looking Caribs from the more Amerindian-looking ones. They decided that the former were enemies who had to be deported, while the latter were merely "misled" and were allowed to remain. Five thousand Black Caribs were deported, but only about 2,500 of them survived the voyage to Roatán. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garinagu petitioned the Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland. The Spanish employed them, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

Language

Garifuna is an Arawakan language spoken in Hondurasmarker, Belizemarker, Guatemalamarker and Nicaraguamarker by the Garifuna people.Their language is primarily derived from Arawak and Carib, with English, French and Spanish to a lesser degree. One interesting feature of Garifuna is a vocabulary split between terms used only by men and terms used only by women. This does not however affect the entire vocabulary but when it does, the terms used by men generally come from Carib and those used by women come from Arawak.

Almost all Garifuna are bilingual or polylingual, speaking the official languages of the countries they inhabit such as Spanish, Kriol and English most commonly as a first language.

Religion

Garinagu Catholicism

Today, the majority of Garifuna are officially Catholic. However, it is syncretized with traditional beliefs held well before their conversion to the Catholic faith. A shaman known as a buyei is the head of all Garifuna traditional practices. Mystical practices and participation in the Dugu orders are also widespread among Garifuna. There is also a Rasta minority, primarily living in Dangrigamarker, Belize Citymarker, Belize, and in Livingston, Guatemala.

Culture

In 2001 UNESCOmarker proclaimed the language, dance and music of the Garifuna as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Belize. In 2005 the First Garifuna Summit was held in Corn Island, Nicaragua with the participation of the government of other Central American countries.

Food

There is a wide variety of Garifuna dishes, including the more commonly known ereba (cassava bread) made from grated cassava. This is done in an ancient and time-consuming process involving a long, snake-like woven basket (ruguma) which strains the cassava of its juice. It is then dried overnight and later sieved through flat rounded baskets (hibise) to form flour that is baked into pancakes on a large iron griddle. Ereba is fondly eaten with fish, hudutu (pounded plantains) or alone with gravy (lasusu). Others include: bundiga (a plantain lasusu), mazapan, and bimacacule (sticky sweet rice).

Music

Garifuna music is quite different from the rest of Central America. The most famous form is punta. Its associated musical style, which has the dancers move their hips from right to left in a circular motion. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre's biggest stars.

Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include: hungu-hungu, combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman, gunjai, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, punta rock, teremuna ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. Punta is the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and at parties and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba and hunguhungu are a circular dance in a three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other songs typical to each gender, women having eremwu eu and abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadaguman, men's work songs, chumba and hunguhungu, a circular dance in a three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta.

Drums play a very important role in Garifuna music. There are primarily two types of drums used:

1. The Primero (tenor drum)

2. The Segunda (bass drum)

These drums are typically made of hollowed-out hardwood such as mahogany or mayflower, with the skins coming from the peccary (wild bush pig), deer, or sheep.

Also used in combination with the drums are the sisera. These shakers are made from the dried fruit of the gourd tree, filled with seeds, then fitted with hardwood handles.

Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records began the Paranda Project.

In contemporary Belize there has been a resurgence of Garifuna music, popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores, & Adrian Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from traditional Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern sounds. Described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda. One great example is Andy Palacio's album Watina, and Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project, both released on the Belizean record label Stonetree Records.

In the Garifuna culture, there is another dance called Dugu. This dance is a ritual done for a death in the family to pay their respect to their loved ones. In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCOmarker.

References

  • Music of the Garifuna (article in RootsWorld) [44629]


See also

Notes



Bibliography

  • Flores, Barbara A.T. (2001) Religious education and theological praxis in a context of colonization: Garifuna spirituality as a means of resistance. Ph.D. Dissertation, Garrett/Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. OCLC 47773227
  • Franzone, Dorothy (1995) A Critical and Cultural Analysis of an African People in the Americas: Africanisms in the Garifuna Culture of Belize. PhD Thesis, Temple University. UMI Dissertation Services (151-152). OCLC 37128913


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