A Garifuna Organization for Northern California
On September 10th, 2000, a group of Belizean
Garifunas living in San Jose and a few Honduran Garifunas from
San Francisco met to form a Garifuna organization in Northern
California. The meeting
took place in San Jose, California. The Garifuna participants
met with the goal in mind of trying to establish more cultural
activities for the Garifuna community in northern California.
The group planned to sponsor a cultural event on November
18th, 2000. This date corresponds with activities of Garifunas in Belize who celebrate and re-enact
Garifuna settlement in Belize. The Garifuna Settlement Day is traditionally celebrated every year on November
19th. Settlement day commemorates
the arrival of the first Garinagu settlers to Belize.
The group also discussed
possibilities of maintaining linkages with Garifuna organizations
in Belize in order to improve the environment and economic life
of Garifunas back home.
Other issues discussed focused on the preservation of the
language. Several members discussed how they could preserve the
language. They discussed the possibility of starting Garifuna
Mr. Marin an organizer and leader of a Honduran based Garifuna
group in San Francisco, also expressed the importance of involving
Honduran participants in the organization. In San Francisco there
are very few cultural activities for Garinagu people other than
the Punta rock bands that occasionally fly into San Francisco
from New York and Honduras to perform. Mr. Marin, who is originally
from Limon, Honduras, hopes to encourage more Honduran Garifuna
to get actively involved in improving the economic situation back
home. High rates of underemployment and illiteracy
are common in Honduran communities. Issues of communal land rights
and lack of access to natural resources are also issues of concern
for Garifuna communities living in Honduras. Since the hurricane
Mitch, devastation, the economic situation has gotten worst.
Currently, Mr. Marin is planning to write a proposal in
order to get foundations to fund libraries in the villages of
Limon and the Mesquita Coast in Honduras. Mr. Marin believes that
placing a Library in these areas would help to decrease the high
The group decided to name the organization Garifuna Council
of Northern California so that it would be representative of all
Garifuna people in the entire Bay Area.
Currently Garifuna families can be found in San Francisco,
Hayward, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and other Bay Area communities.
The group is in its infancy stages. The
mission of the organization is to promote Garifuna culture.