August 26, 2011
Garifuna dancers give SVG treat at Peace Mo

Vincentians were treated to a piece of forgotten heritage last Saturday, August 20, with the staging of ‘Habinaha Garinagu – Dance St Vincent and the Grenadines 2011’ at the Peace Memorial Hall.{{more}}

Participants in the just concluded Garifuna Cultural Retrieval Summer Programme were featured in the performance which featured a combination of poetry, singing and drumming all done in Garifuna.

The summer programme was put together by a team of persons, James Cordice, Trish St Hill, Verna Arthur and Kylla Herbert, and includes two Belizeans James Lovell, a Garifuna Artiste and Eleanor Bullock, Garifuna dancer and choreographer, all residing in the United States.

James Cordice, President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Organisation of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) and one of the organizers, said that the team had come together with one thing in common.

The commonality, according to Cordice, was to see a revival of the Garifuna language, culture and heritage to the land where it originated.

And for four weeks, young children were taught the forgotten and forbidden language of their ancestors.

Last Saturday’s event was the grand finale and an exhibition of the work that had been done throughout the past four weeks.

Those present had the opportunity to hear the national anthem sung in the native tongue.

The programme moved into a combination of poetry, song and dance, with the final segment focusing on the sound of the drum.

“Look at how far we have come,” Rene Baptiste, former Minister of Culture, declared.

She continued by saying that there was a lot of negative criticism back in 2001 when she launched the Garifuna retrieval project.

Back then Baptiste explained various initiatives were put in place to create an awareness of the great heritage and legacy.

However, the exhibition last Saturday, according to Baptiste, was an indication that the heritage was not going to die.

“The drums will never be silent again. We must never let it disappear again,” Baptiste said.

As she pledged her support for the programme, she made a request for the children to learn more than just the language and dance, but for them to get a full understanding of the Garifuna tradition.

On Sunday, the team also journeyed to Greiggs where Garifuna descendants reside for a repeat performance. (DD)