Reclaiming Heritage? Concentrate on the Young
March 15, 2024
Reclaiming Heritage? Concentrate on the Young

By the time you read this edition of SEARCHLIGHT, National Heroes Day and the main activities associated with it would have passed. We hope that in some way or another you have participated and contributed to the observance of the occasion.

We join the rest of the Vincentian community in welcoming our sisters and brothers from Central and North America on their annual pilgrimage to their beloved Yurumei, and at the same time extend our solidarity with the Garifuna Heritage Foundation which spearheads the annual activities, along with the Department of Culture. It is heartening to note the deepening of cooperation between the local entities and those in the Garifuna Diaspora after some early misunderstanding some years ago.

The linkage of the local and foreign-based elements of the Garifuna nation is an essential art of our continuing drive for the restoration of our Garifuna culture, so brutally suppressed by British colonialism. It is indeed difficult to imagine a conquering warmongering nation, in the case of Britain, which set out to send 5000 of the conquered people off to uncharted territory in Central America, and, in addition sending them off to Balliceaux as a holding measure. For those who remained here, every effort was made to wipe out Garifuna and Kalinago culture and it is therefore critically important for the ongoing initiatives to continue.

Some notable progress has been made in schools and in the traditional communities of Garifuna and Kalinago people. It is spine-tingling for instance to hear the rendition of our national anthem in the Garifuna language though it is striking that our anthem does not dwell on our heritage. Congrats to those involved in this splendid effort.

Good as the going has been in difficult circumstances, now that a base has been established, we need to give the drive towards cultural reclamation some impetus, especially in non-indigenous communities. The cultural re-awakening must infuse all our people and be part of cementing the unification of our nation. The discrimination of the past must be put to an end and all sections of our population respected and treated equally.

It is very unfortunate that in the 21st century, we still have people using the “Carib” terms in a very derogatory manner.

The surest guarantee of our efforts bearing fruit would come from investing in the education of our children.

While we are still awaiting the officially authorized History book, done by local historians, we can augment the process by simple initiatives. It should not be difficult to commission a simple booklet for starters, on the history, culture and achievements of our ancestors. Let us not wait for our young ones to be contaminated by misinformation and then having to fight to correct it.

Invest in our young ones!