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Garifuna 101 » Shall I Be A Garifuna Today or Shall I Not?
Oct 31, 2004

SHALL I BE GARIFUNA TODAY OR SHALL I NOT?

There is an inaccuracy in the population count of the Garifuna in our communities. We are underestimated and undercounted in the villages, towns, and the different countries that we live in. In Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and in the United States, we are counted as only a small minority usually at 10% or less in each of these countries. Honduras estimates to have about 75,000, Guatemala 17,000 Belize 12,000, Nicaragua 1,500, and in the United States an unspecified amount. In addition, when Garinagu in the United States are asked the question on race or ethnicity, the only choices that they have is to check the box that says African American or Hispanic-Latino or Other. In Central America, the issue of race, ethnicity, and culture did not come into account until the Rigoberta Menchu Tun, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, movement started shaking the very foundation of Human Rights not only in Guatemala but also in the neighboring nations. Many of these countries do not take into account that we garifuna have mixed with Creoles, Spanish and Mayans among others. But it seems that once there is a mix of garifuna with any other race or culture, that individual does not consider himself or herself as a garifuna anymore. We have garifuna people in our society who I referred to as “Shall I Garifuna? meaning that when mood strikes that individual considers himself or herself a garifuna for the time being. Those same individuals usually just come out to celebrate their culture on two occasions: during the settlement day celebrations and in case of death in the family. It is an insult to the garifuna culture when one garifuna denies his or her heritage. The Shall I or Shall I not be Garifuna Today and not tomorrow is an ignorant way of identifying oneself. That is like a black man waking up in the morning and asking himself the unrealistic question of shall I be a black man today or a white man? Or vice versa. You are who you are and you should be proud to be a Garifuna. There is an old adage that my father used to say; “If your Ma, Pa, Granny or Grandpa dah Garifuna, then Garifuna Bugia.? Bugia = You are

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to write to mamagapg@yahoo.com

Cheryl Noralez




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