Celebrating November 19th in Belize means celebrating the Garifuna. Garifuna Settlement Day is a national public and bank holiday that pays tribute to a rich Afrocentric culture whose legacy lives on and is today told through dance and drums.
As the 19th of November approaches, the sounds of drums bring life to the communities across the nation as the Garinagu gear up to celebrate the day they first arrived on Belizean shores in 1832. Over a hundred years later, re-enactments tell the story of both the survival and flourishment of a resilient people, descendants of Arawak Indians and African slaves.
Today, during the early morning of November 19th, Garifuna line the shores in their respective communities across Belize as they usher in water vessels decorated in banana leaves and Garifuna flags, lively singing and drumming as they interpret the first pilgrimage led by Alejo Beni.
Whether through language, music and dance, food or arts- there’s no denying that the Garifuna dominate the ethnic heart of Belize.
Cultural dances such as the Jankunu incorporate vibrant costumes and masks, along with intricate foot work, drumming and much singing to tell the tales of the struggles of their ancestors. Today the Garifuna culture is being shared and loved universally through musical genres such as punta rock and paranda, and through traditional foods such as hudut, darassa, sere, and tapau.
On the 19th of November, Belizeans take out the time to honor the past, appreciate the present and celebrate the future of the Garifuna people. If you’re in Belize mid-November, be sure to join the celebration!