Garifuna heritage to be revived – 2012
January 10, 2012

Garifuna heritage to be revived – 2012

The retrieval of the Garifuna heritage in its birthplace St Vincent will be one of the main areas of focus for the local Garifuna Heritage Foundation in 2012.

The Garifuna Heritage Foundation (TGHF) will host its first International Conference in March 2012, at which several issues relating to the Garifuna Heritage will be addressed by local and international Garifuna intellectuals and professors.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, January 3, Chairman of the TGHF David Darkie Williams stated that the Garifuna culture is still alive in other parts of the world. Williams stated that there are about a quarter million Garifunas located in cities and countries around the world, including New York, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Since these people were exiled, they have maintained the culture, they have practiced the culture and the culture is still alive, Williams stated, adding that aspects of the Garifuna culture are not alive in St Vincent.

We know that aspects of Garifuna culture are not alive and prevalent in St Vincent and the Grenadines. We have lost it all through colonialism. Even where there are remnants of culture existing, we do not recognize it as remnants of the Garifuna, Williams said.

He stated that as the birthplace of the Garifuna people, it is important the St Vincent and the Grenadines recapture the Garifuna culture. The establishment of the International Centre, Williams said, will facilitate the revival of the Garifuna culture in this country.

Mike Browne, Chairman of the Conference committee, stated that the conference is very important as it will facilitate discussions on how to develop the centre. He added that they have already accumulated documents, films and photographs, and have additionally issued a call for papers to place in the centre.

The Conference, in addition to addressing the issue of the revival of the Garifuna culture in St Vincent, will address the issue of the teaching of the Garifuna language. Williams added that it is part of the mandate of the Foundation to solicit someone to teach the Garifuna language, the preferred approach, he stated, will be through an online course.

He added that a professional, versed in Garifuna dance and music, will have to be solicited to teach persons about that aspect of the culture in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Browne added that it is also the aim of the Foundation to have the Garifuna Culture mainstreamed in the Education Curriculum. He added that there is need for a general history of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and also a specific history of the Garifuna People. He added that appeals have been made to historians to compile a history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Browne stated that so far, the best history text on the Garifuna people is in the book The Rise and Fall of the Black Caribs, written by Dr Earle Kirby and C.I. Martin. There are also articles and papers written about the history of Black Caribs, Browne said.