Texas Garifuna/Belizeans Community
Published for the Garifuna & Belizean Community of  Killeen/Texas

ISSUE NUMBER:  003-2000                December,  2000
Our Keynote Speaker:
Efrain Castro
Born: Puerto Castilla, Honduras
Education:  University of New York; B.S. in Sociology, 1970. BSEE in Electrical Engineering, 1976.
 University of Texas in Dallas; M.S. in Project Management, 1998.
Married;  Rita Castro, wife & 4 Children.

"History Supports our Aspirations for the Future"

Good day to all the ancestors
Good day to all the Garinagu present in this gathering!
Good day to Garinagu that are elsewhere!
Good day to all Belizeans
Good day to our invited friends, guest and our Killeen collaborators.

November 19th marks an important day in the lives of the Garinagu.

Today November 18, 2000 we gather in Killeen, Texas to commemorate the “en masse” arrival of Garinagu in Belize in 1832. under the leadership of Alejo Benni, a group of Garinagu from Honduras migrated to resettle in Dangriga, Belize after they found themselves on the wrong side of a Honduran Civil War.

British recorded history shows that there were at least 150 Garinagu in Dangriga, Belize as early as 1802 engaged in farming and fishing. The British treated the Garinagu as squatters and they weren’t allowed any rights to the land. In 1857 the British told the Garinagu that they must obtain leases from the crown or risk their lands, dwellings, and other buildings….To prevent  Garifuna and Maya land ownership in Belize, the British established separate reservations for these nations through the 1872 Crown Land Ordinance.

Despite the hardships and barriers Garinagu  made out with what was available to them; Today we are celebrating a Belize National Holiday a tribute to the resilience of Garinagu.

It is said that there is no rest for the weary; This is true for the Garinagu. There are new obstacles to hurdle; There are new problems to solve ….. That is…if we want to continue being Garinagu.  Globalization is the order of the day, and many indigenous cultures are disappearing and in their place appears a  new set of  prescribed norms and guidelines that enables the populace to interpret the events in their lives.  Norms prescribed by these new guidelines include but not limited to: Self gratification above all;  No distinction between genders; No respect is due to elders; Primary goal is material wealth etc…

Identifying Ourselves

Is it important to identify ourselves as Garinagu?
What is culture?
Is the affinity to a culture exclude others in a globalized world?
What are the contributions of any culture to the overall populace?
How can we best transmit the culture to the new generation?

What is culture?
It is a set of ideas and realities that enables one to self identify

Components of culture are:
Knowledge:  The natural cycle of the world is counted in revolutions of the moon around the earth
Beliefs: Family is the building block of the Garifuna society
            In the realm the sacred, Ancestors are our protectors
Art: Garifuna music; basket making; Boat making; House decoration
Morals: Garinagu respect elders
Laws…Based on Values and Norms
Values: Abstract ideals about what is thought to be good, right and desirable.
Norms: Social rules and guidelines that prescribe appropriate behavior in particular situation.
Customs: Garinagu give without expecting something in return; The village can  reprimand  one’s children.
Language: Garifuna transmits ideas that have no direct equivalent in other languages.. Nibu, Namule,  Afuru…etc.
                  Garifuna Language has a non spoken component as well

Is the affinity to a culture exclude others in the globalized society? I don’t think so…
An individual’s identity is formed through the experiences he has within a family, the group to which the family belongs and the mainstream society.
The family define to a child what is right and wrong ; It also provides guidelines for interacting with others.
The group to which the family belongs re-enforce the teachings because they share the same beliefs and values.
When an individual interacts in the mainstream society, an affinity to a set of values learned at the home and reinforced by his cultural group give him strength in acting in non familiar terrain.

Without  a cultural affinity, the child is bombarded with many foreign ideas that are encountered in the mainstream society. All may be equally valuable…but how does a young mind determine which one is right for him?

Nurturing one’s culture is not meant to be exclusive; The natural way is for all to have a sanctuary where one can assure the next generation a fighting chance for survival. If others want to join a particular culture because they think its good for their future then  I see no problem with this…But the Garifuna culture should be the basis of the union.

What are the contributions of any culture to the overall populace?
Garinagu contribute to the globalized cultures in  Honduras and Belize.

As much globalization is heralded; Its cultural components are derived from many indigenous cultures.
It foods
Its folklore
Its  right and wrong
Its emphasis on individualism
It’s culture is a hodge- podge of indigenous culture components.

If the globalized society want to make meaningful any of its practices it must refer to the aboriginal roots of that practice.
Since aboriginal cultures are the contributors to the globalized culture then why must I, a Garifuna, give up my ancestral culture to adapt a mixture that I can’t understand

How can we best transmit the culture to the new generation?
We can best transmit the culture by living it.

We live our beliefs and convictions so that the new generation can learn from us. It is not enough to talk about the past. It is important to integrate the culture into the dynamics of living we find ourselves in today.
It is very difficult to live the Garifuna life as it was transmitted to us by our forefathers because we are dispersed and we are bombarded by foreign cultures; There is hardly any reinforcement of  Garifuna values since we don’t have many of us a one location.
The times we gather are of short duration  that it almost have no affect on reinforcing our beliefs and less yet on the formation of our children.

We must support our organizations in whichever community we find ourselves if we want to continue giving life to our culture........
That is if we want to continue calling ourselves Garinagu.

Happy Settlement day to all!!!

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