Garifuna Heritage Foundation launches 2024 programme
From left: David Williams - president of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation (photo by Robertson S Henry) , Maxwell Charles - Head of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (photo by Robertson S Henry) and Nashakie Samuel - representative of the Ministry of Education (photo by Robertson S Henry)
February 16, 2024
Garifuna Heritage Foundation launches 2024 programme

The 2024 programme of activities which forms part of National Heroes and Heritage Month, 2024, was launched on Tuesday morning February 13, 2024, by the Garifuna Heritage Foundation at the University of the West Indies Global Campus, in Kingstown.

This year’s programme will include the 11th International Garifuna Conference scheduled to be held March 11–13, 2024, and the National Schools’ Garifuna Folk Festival on March 5, 2024, at the Victoria Park, under the theme: ‘Children of Chatoyer, Fruits of our Heritage’. Additionally, there will be a Pilgrimage to St. Vincent and the Grenadines March 13 – 17, 2024 by descendants of the Garifuna who reside in Central American countries.

The cultural rally is expected to feature dancing, singing, drama, drumming and choral speeches by primary and secondary schools students throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), who will receive trophies for the best performances in the various categories.

Head of the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU), Deputy Ambassador Maxwell Charles, delivering the opening remarks said “The foundation has been a fixture of this month ever since it was introduced in 2001, and we have always taken pride of place among most of the organizations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines retrieving and reclaiming the heritage and the culture of the Garifuna people. The foundation is an organization that was formed in 2001, and we are dedicated to the main objective of rebuilding, and retrieving the Garifuna heritage in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We seek to build a network, and that’s how we have been doing our work.”

Charles pointed out that the Garifuna Heritage Foundation seeks to build a network of support for persons in SVG “in recognition of…the Garifuna diaspora, as a critical element for the survival of the Garifuna culture.”

President of the Foundation, David ‘Darkie’ Williams, also speaking at Tuesday’s launch said: “Our conferences have been the highlight of our existence up to this point. But so too, in a very close pattern, is our school’s Garifuna Folk Festival. This year will be our 11th conference, and it will be presented under the theme: Promoting Reparatory Justice towards the development and implementation of a 2030 Indigenous Peoples Plan”.

He added, “these conferences have opened up lots of opportunities for us to develop this network that we want to use to advance the cause of retrieving the Garifuna heritage and the Garifuna culture, and we will continue to do that”.

He said further that the Garifuna Heritage Foundation has been able to strengthen their network “through the organizing of summer camps for youths on Garifuna dance, Garifuna language, Garifuna music through the organizing of training workshops for teachers…the execution of cultural exchanges between Garifuna groups from Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, to St. Vincent, and the hosting of community gatherings.”

Meanwhile, Nashakie Samuel, the representative from the Ministry of Education assured at Tuesday’s launch that “the Ministry of Education recognizes the importance of hosting these activities for the reason that it will help to improve the students’ knowledge of the local history of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Besides, students will be motivated to research the socio-economic, political and cultural heritage of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as an academic discipline and as a rewarding leisure pursuit”. She said additionally these activities will help to encourage students to have a greater appreciation for local history and Vincentian culture.

“Added to that, activities such as these provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their talents and develop self-confidence. Furthermore, they intend to foster national pride among students and the entire Vincentian populace.”

The March 11-13 Garifuna Conference will be addressed by a number of persons grounded in history, culture and reparatory justice. Among them will be Joan Hoyte, Vincentian Attorney–at–Law, currently employed at the US Congress; Lucia Ellis, Belizean Researcher and Director of the NUMASA Wellness Institute; Dr. Lennox Honeychurch, History Lecturer, Researcher and former Resident Tutor, UWI Open Campus; Dr. Garrey Dennie, Associate Professor History, St. Mary’s College; and local Historian, Dr. Adrian Fraser. Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves will deliver one of the keynote addresses at the three day conference.