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Garifuna 101 » The Garinagu Presence in Central America
Nov 30, 2004

It never ceases to amaze me of the capability of the garifuna mind. I am always perplexed of what great accomplishments garifuna individuals have continued to make. Scholars have been able to translate not only the Holy Bible but also the national anthems of Honduras, Belize and now Guatemala into the Garifuna language. The time, effort and brilliance it takes to achieve such a monumental task are remarkable. For a people that many have yet to hear of, that is truly commendable. Every Garifuna should be proud and be made aware of such breakthroughs in our community. We are people who have been dismissed as unintelligent, illiterate and lazy among other hateful things, yet we continue to work diligently towards the advancement of our culture through literature, arts and education. We have only began to scratch the surface of the truly complex and unique capability of the Garinagu. Our people will not be kept hidden for another century. This is the moment in time that the legacy must be turned from defeat to triumph. In spite of the knowledge that our people are embedded with, we still have a long journey ahead of us in terms of being rightfully recognized and accepted as equal. In all three major Garifuna countries of Honduras, Guatemala and Belize and not excluding Nicaragua, there is yet to be a Garifuna leader in a significant political role. These Central American nations are continuously benefiting from tourism by marketing the Garifuna people and culture. Yet the governments in these nations are turning a blind eye to the people who are selling and stealing our ancestral lands from us. The Garifuna communities in these countries are being left neglected. We have inadequate infrastructure like schools, roads and access to clinics staffed with well-trained doctors. Our people are dying of such diseases like diabetes, heart disease and aids. Good luck finding a dialysis machine in a Garifuna town. Good luck finding a doctor who can properly treat glaucoma who can keep a Garifuna from going blind. In order to get decent treatment, our people have to travel miles into the city in search of proper care, why not bring the proper care and the facilities into the villages and towns instead. We Garinagu have contributed to the development of these nations, but still we are treated like second class citizens or non-existent beings. We are given crumbs from a loaf of bread. Our presence must be felt and not just seen for the sake of tourism. It is not just enough to recognize us one or two days out the year for the sake of publicity and profit only to ignore us for the rest of the year. We have played and continue to play a vital role in the economy, education and development in these countries. There should be a greater Garifuna representation to speak on behalf of the needs in each of these countries. The lack of appreciation, respect and recognition of the Garinagu presence in Central America must come to an end.

Any comments and/or rebuttals write to: mamagapg@yahoo.com

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