Garifuna (Pardo) (/ɡəˈrɪfʊnə/ gə-RIF-uu-nə; pl. Garinagu
in Garifuna) are Latinos of mixed-race descendants of West African,
Central African, Island Carib, European, and
Although their background is the Lesser Antilles, since 1797, the
Garifuna people are from Central America, along the Caribbean Coast of
Honduras, with smaller populations in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua.
They arrived there after being exiled from the islands of the Lesser
Antilles by British colonial administration as Black Caribs after a
series of slave revolts. Those Caribs deemed to have had less African
admixture were not exiled, and are still living in the islands.
They speak the
Garifuna language, among others.
1.1 Three Diasporas: African, Garifuna, and Central American
5 Gender relations
8 Notable Garifuna
9 See also
12 External links
The Carib people migrated from the mainland to the islands circa 1200,
according to carbon dating of artifacts. They largely displaced,
exterminated and assimilated the Taino who were resident on the island
at the time.
The French missionary
Raymond Breton arrived in the
Lesser Antilles in
1635, and lived on
Dominica until 1653. He took
ethnographic and linguistic notes on the native peoples of these
islands, including St Vincent, which he visited briefly. According to
oral history noted by the English governor William Young in 1795,
Carib-speaking people of the
Orinoco River area on the mainland came
to St. Vincent long before the arrival of Europeans to the New World.
They subdued the local inhabitants called Galibeis, and unions took
place between the peoples.
According to Young's record, the first Africans arrived in 1675
following the wreck of a slave ship from the Bight of Biafra. The
survivors, members of the Mokko people of today's Nigeria (now known
as Ibibio) and the British sailors, reached the small island of
Bequia. The Carib took them to Saint Vincent and intermarried with
them, supplying the men with wives, as it was taboo in their society
for men to go unwed.
In 1635 the Carib were overwhelmed by French forces led by the
Pierre Belain d'Esnambuc and his nephew Jacques Dyel du
Parquet. They imposed French colonial rule on the indigenous Carib
Cardinal Richelieu of France gave the island to the Saint
Christophe Company, in which he was a shareholder. Later the company
was reorganized as the Company of the American Islands. The French
French Law on the inhabitants, and Jesuit
missionaries arrived to convert them to the
Roman Catholic Church.
Because the Carib people resisted working as laborers to build and
maintain the sugar and cocoa plantations which the French began to
develop in the Caribbean, in 1636 King Louis XIII proclaimed La
Traité des Noirs. This authorized the capture and purchase of slaves
from sub-Saharan Africa and their transportation as labor to
Martinique and other parts of the French West Indies.
In 1650, the Company liquidated, selling
Martinique to Jacques Dyel du
Parquet, who became governor. He held this position until his death in
1658. His widow Mme. du Parquet took over control of the island from
France. As more French colonists arrived, they were attracted to the
fertile area known as Cabesterre (leeward side). The French had pushed
the remaining Carib people to this northeastern coast and the
Caravalle Peninsula, but the colonists wanted the additional land. The
Jesuits and the Dominicans agreed that whichever order arrived there
first, would get all future parishes in that part of the island. The
Jesuits came by sea and the Dominicans by land, with the Dominicans'
When the Carib revolted against French rule in 1660, the Governor
Charles Houel sieur de Petit Pré retaliated with war against them.
Many were killed; those who survived were taken captive and expelled
from the island. On Martinique, the French colonists signed a peace
treaty with the few remaining Carib. Some Carib had fled to Dominica
and St. Vincent, where the French agreed to leave them at peace.
Depiction of the 1773 treaty negotiations between the British and the
Britain and France both made conflicting claims on Saint Vincent from
the late seventeenth century onward. French pioneers began informally
cultivating plots on the island around 1710. In 1719 the governor of
Martinique sent a force to occupy it, but was repulsed by the Carib
inhabitants. A British attempt in 1723 was also repelled. In 1748,
Britain and France agreed to put aside their claims and declared Saint
Vincent to be a neutral island, under no European sovereign.
Throughout this period, however, unofficial, mostly French settlement
took place on the island, especially on the Leeward side. African
refugees continued to reach Saint Vincent, and a mixed-race population
developed through unions with the Carib.
In 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, Britain gained rule over Saint Vincent
following its defeat of France in the Seven Years' War, fought in both
Europe and North America. It also took over all French territory in
North America east of the Mississippi River. Through the rest of the
century, the Carib-African natives mounted a series of Carib Wars,
which were encouraged and supported by the French. By the end of the
18th century, the indigenous population was primarily mixed race.
Following the death of their leader Satuye (Joseph Chatoyer), the
Carib on St. Vincent finally surrendered to the British in 1796 after
the Second Carib War, having resisted for much longer than natives on
other islands. "St. Vincent was the last of the Windward Islands to be
This was also in the period of the violent slave revolts in the French
colony of Saint-Domingue, which ultimately led to the slaves gaining
the independent republic of
Haiti in 1804. The French lost thousands
of troops in an attempt to take back the island in 1803, many to
yellow fever epidemics. Thousands of whites and free people of color
were killed in the revolution. Europeans throughout the Caribbean and
American South feared future slave revolts.
The British deported the
Garifuna to Roatán, an island off the coast
of Honduras. Based in part on their experience with slavery in other
parts of the Caribbean and North America, the British separated the
more African-looking Caribs from the more Amerindian-looking ones.
They decided that the former had to be exiled, while the latter were
"misled" and allowed to remain. Five thousand Garinagu were exiled
but, weakened by captivity, about half or 2,500 survived the voyage to
Roatán. Because the island was too small and infertile to support
their population, the
Garifuna petitioned Spanish authorities to be
allowed to settle on the mainland in the Spanish colonies. The Spanish
employed them, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of the
Central American colonies.
Large-scale sugar production and chattel slavery were not established
on Saint Vincent until the British took it over. As Great Britain
abolished slavery in 1832, it operated it for roughly a generation on
the island, creating a legacy different than on other Caribbean
islands. Elsewhere slavery had been institutionalized for much
In the 21st century, the
Garifuna population is estimated to be around
600,000 in total, taking together its people in Central America,
Yurumein (St. Vincent and The Grenadines), and the United States. As a
result of extensive emigration from Central America, the United States
has the second-largest population of
Garifuna outside Central America.
New York has the largest population, dominated by
Guatemala and Belize. Los Angeles ranks second with Honduran
Garifuna being the most populous, followed by those from
Guatemala. There is no information regarding
Garifuna from Nicaragua
having migrated to either coast of the United States. The Nicaraguan
Garifuna population is quite small. Community leaders are attempting
to resurrect the
Garifuna language and cultural traditions.
By 2014 more
Garifuna were leaving
Honduras and "illegally"
immigrating to the United States.
Three Diasporas: African, Garifuna, and Central American
The distinction between diaspora and transnational migration is that
diaspora implies the dispersal of a people from a homeland, whether
voluntarily or through exile, to multiple nation-states. Transnational
migration is generally associated with two locations. In addition, in
contrast to the more intense contact which contemporary transmigrants
have with their country of origin, diasporic populations often have a
more tenuous relationship to the "homeland" or society of origin.
Historically there was little hope of return; the relationship is more
remote, or even imagined. Thus the
African diaspora was that of
people being taken captive and sold into slavery, and delivered to
various parts of the New World. In those early centuries, return was
impossible. Slaves from West African peoples formed relationships with
the Carib and a new people developed.
Garifuna people developed through a process of ethnogenesis on the
Caribbean island of St. Vincent, and were exiled in the colonial
period to the Caribbean coasts of Central America. Since the late 20th
century, many have emigrated from what are now Honduras,
Guatemala to the United States. For the Garífuna, the politics of
diaspora are complex because they have several different homelands and
different relationships to them: from the mainly symbolic relationship
to Africa and St. Vincent, to the closer relationship to various
national homelands of Central America. The specific form of
identification by individuals with each homeland has different
Garifuna identity in diaspora is complex,
involving local, national, and transnational processes, as well as
global ethnic politics.
Garifuna language is an offshoot of the
Island Carib language, and
it is spoken in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and
Nicaragua by the
Garifuna people. It is an
Arawakan language with French, English, and
Spanish influences, reflecting their long interaction with various
Garifuna has a vocabulary featuring some terms used
by women and others used primarily by men. This may derive from
historical Carib practices: in the colonial era, the Carib of both
sexes spoke Island Carib. Men additionally used a distinct pidgin
based on the unrelated mainland Carib language.
Although many people speak it, it is not treated as a real language by
some as it has no official written component to it, it is only spoken.
This makes the language hard to learn unless it is learned in early
childhood, along with other languages simultaneously. This occurs most
often as children learn the
Garifuna as a cultural language and a
language such as Spanish or English spoken as the official language of
where they live.
Garifuna are bilingual or multilingual. They generally
speak the official languages of the countries they inhabit, such as
Spanish and English, most commonly as a first language. Many also
speak Garifuna, mostly as a cultural language, as a part of their
The Garinagu do not have an official religion, but a complex set of
practices for individuals and groups to show respect for their
ancestors and Bungiu [God] or Sunti Gabafu [All Powerful]. A shaman
known as a buyei is the head of all
Garifuna traditional practices.
The spiritual practices of the Garinagu have qualities similar to the
voodoo rituals performed by other tribes of African descent. Mystical
practices and participation such as in the
Dugu ceremony and chugu are
also widespread among Garifuna. At times, traditional religions have
prohibited members of their congregation from participating in these
or other rituals.
Today, the majority of
Garifuna are officially
Catholic but some
following other religions. They practice a syncretic Catholicism,
incorporating traditional beliefs.
There is also a Rastafarian minority, primarily living in Dangriga,
Belize City, Belize, and in Livingston, Guatemala.
There are also
Garifuna who practice the religion of Islam.
Garifuna parade on San Isidro Day, in Livingston (Guatemala).
UNESCO proclaimed the language, dance, and music of the
Garifuna as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of
Humanity in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Belize. In 2005 the First
Garifuna Summit was held in Corn Islands, Nicaragua, with the
participation of the government of other Central American
There is a wide variety of
Garifuna dishes, including the more
commonly known ereba (cassava bread) made from grated cassava root,
yucca. The process of making "ereba" is arguably the most important
tradition practiced by the
Garifuna people. Cassava is so closely tied
Garifuna culture that the very name
Garifuna draws its origin
from the Caribs who were originally called "Karifuna" of the cassava
clan. They later adopted the name "Garifuna", which literally means
cassava-eating people. Making "ereba" is a long and arduous process
that involves a large group of
Garifuna (mostly women and children)
hiking into the jungle to dig up a large quantity of the cassava root
(usually several dozen pounds) and taking it back to the village. The
root is then washed peeled and grated over small sharp stones affixed
to wooden boards. The grating is difficult and time consuming, and the
women sing sad and slow songs to break the monotony of the work. The
grated cassava is then placed into a large cylindrical woven bag
called a "ruguma". The "ruguma" is hung from a tree and weighted at
the bottom with heavy rocks in order to squeeze out and remove the
poisonous liquid and starch from the grated pulp. The counterweight is
sometimes provided by piercing the bottom of the "ruguma" with a tree
branch and having one or two
Garifuna women sit on the branch.
Whatever the manner in which the weight is provided, the result is the
same. The cassava is then ready to be made into flour. The remaining
pulp is dried overnight and later sieved through flat rounded baskets
(hibise) to form flour that is baked into pancakes on a large iron
griddle (Comal). Ereba is eaten with fish, machuca (pounded green and
ripe plantains) or alone with gravy (lasusu) often made with a fish
soup called "hudutu". Other accompanying dishes may include: bundiga
(a green banana lasusu), mazapan, and bimecacule (sticky sweet rice),
as well as a coconut rice made with red beans. Nigerians also make
"eba", "gari" and "fufu" from dried, grated cassava flour and similar
accompanying dishes such as "ewuro" or egusi" (made with melon seeds)
soup. A alcoholic drink called gifiti is commonly made at home; it is
a rum-based bitters, made by soaking roots and herbs.
Garifuna dancers in Dangriga, Belize
Garifuna music is quite different from that of the rest of Central
America. The most famous form is punta. In its associated dance style,
dancers move their hips in a circular motion. An evolved form of
traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments,
punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s;
this is called punta rock. Traditional punta dancing is consciously
competitive. Artists like
Pen Cayetano helped innovate modern punta
rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for
later artists like Andy Palacio, Children of the Most High, and Black
Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by
the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of
Punta Rockers in 1987, a
compilation featuring many of the genre's biggest stars. Punta
musicians in Central America, the US, and elsewhere made further
advances with the introduction of the piano, woodwind, brass and
string instruments. Punta-rock has grown since the early 1980s to
include other electronic instruments such as the synthesizer and
electric bass guitar as well as other percussive instruments.
Punta along with Reggaeton music are predominantly popular and
influential among the entire population in Honduras. Often mixed with
Punta has a widespread audience due to the immigration of
Hondurans and Guatemalan to the United States, other parts of Latin
America and Europe, notably Spain.
Punta bands in
Honduras such as
Kazzabe, Shabakan, Silver Star, Los Rolands, Banda Blanca, Los Gatos
Bravos and Grupo Zambat have appeal for Latin American migrant
Punta has caused Belizean and Guatemalan Punta
to use more Spanish due to the commercial success achieved by bands
that use it.
When Banda Blanca of
Honduras sold over 3 million copies of "Sopa De
Caracol" ("Conch Soup"), originally written by Belizean Chico Ramos,
the Garifunas of
Belize felt cheated but celebrated the success. The
genre is continuing to develop a strong following in the United States
and South America and the Caribbean.
Belizean punta is distinctive from traditional punta in that songs are
usually in Kriol or
Garifuna and rarely in Spanish or English. calypso
and soca have had some effect on it. Like calypso and soca, Belizean
punta provides social commentary and risqué humor, though the initial
wave of punta acts eschewed the former. Calypso Rose, Lord Rhaburn and
the Cross Culture Band assisted the acceptance of punta by Belizean
Kriol people by singing calypso songs about punta - songs such as
"Gumagrugu Watah" and "
Punta Rock Eena Babylon".
Prominent broadcasters of
Punta music include WAVE Radio and Krem
Other forms of
Garifuna music and dance include: hungu-hungu,
combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman,
gunjai, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, teremuna
ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. However, punta is the most
popular dance in
Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and
at parties and other social events.
Punta lyrics are usually composed
by the women.
Chumba and hunguhungu involve circular dancing to a
three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other
types of songs typical of each gender: women having eremwu eu and
abaimajani, rhythmic a cappella songs, and laremuna wadaguman; and men
having work songs, chumba, and hunguhungu.
Drums play a very important role in
Garifuna music. Primarily two
types of drums are used: the primero (tenor drum) and the segunda
(bass drum). These drums are typically made of hollowed-out hardwood,
such as mahogany or mayflower, with the skins coming from the peccary
(wild bush pig), deer, or sheep.
Also used in combination with the drums are the sisera, which are
shakers made from the dried fruit of the gourd tree, filled with
seeds, and then fitted with hardwood handles.
Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas' arrival in Central
America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was
barely recorded until the 1990s, when
Ivan Duran of Stonetree Records
began the Paranda Project.
Belize there has been a resurgence of
popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores, and
Aurelio Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from
Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern
sounds. Described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda, this music
is exemplified in Andy Palacio's album Watina, and in Umalali: The
Garifuna Women's Project, both of which were released on the Belizean
record label, Stonetree Records. Canadian musician
Danny Michel has
also recorded an album, Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me, with a
Garifuna culture there is another dance called "dugu", which is
included as part of a ritual done following a death in the family so
as to pay respect to the departed loved one.
Through traditional dance and music, musicians have come together to
raise awareness of HIV/AIDS.
Gender roles within the
Garifuna communities are significantly defined
by the job opportunities available to everyone. The
have relied on farming for a steady income in the past, but much of
this land was taken by fruit companies in the 20th century. These
companies were welcomed at first because the production helped bring
an income to the local communities, but as business declined these
large companies sold the land and it has become inhabited by mestizo
farmers. Since this time the
Garifuna people have been forced to
travel and find jobs with foreign companies. The
mainly rely on export businesses for steady jobs; however, women are
highly discriminated against and are usually unable to get these
jobs. Men generally work for foreign-owned companies collecting
timber and chicle to be exported, or work as fishermen.
Garifuna people live in a matrilocal society, but the women are forced
to rely on men for a steady income in order to support their families,
because the few jobs that are available, housework and selling
homemade goods, do not create enough of an income to survive on.
Although women have power within their homes, they rely heavily on the
income of their husbands.
Although men can be away at work for large amounts of time they still
believe that there is a strong connection between men and their
newborn sons. Garifunas believe that a baby boy and his father have a
special bond, and they are attached spiritually. It is important
for a son's father to take care of him, which means that he must give
up some of his duties in order to spend time with his child.
During this time women gain more responsibility and authority within
According to one genetic study the ancestry of the
Garifuna people on
average, is 76% African, 20% Arawak/Carib and 4% European, but the
admixture levels vary greatly between island and Central American
Garinagu Communities with Stann Creek,
Belize Garinagu having 79.9%
African, 2.7% European and 17.4% Amerindian and Sandy Bay, St. Vincent
Garinagu having 41.1% African, 16.7% European and 42.2%
Garifuna culture is greatly affected by the economic atmosphere
surrounding the community. This makes the communities extremely
susceptible to outside influence. Many worry that the area will become
extremely commercialized since there are few economic opportunities
within the area.
Abe Laboriel Jr.
Bernard Martínez Valerio
Thomas Vincent Ramos
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