All the black communities living on the Caribbean coast of Central America are commonly called Garifuna or Black Carib, or as they refer to themselves, Garinagu. Over the last three centuries, in spite of many migrations, re-settlements and interactions with Indians, British, French and Spanish, they have preserved much of the culture from their two main branches of ancestry. The Garinagu are the descendants of Caribs Indians and Black African slaves. The Caribs were originally indigenous people from South America. They spoke the Arawak Indian language and are believed to have left the Orinoco jungles of Venezuela to settle in the Caribbean. They inhabited various Caribbean islands but were later pushed out by European colonists and were able to keep only two islands, Dominica and Saint Vincent.
In 1635 two Spanish ships carrying slaves to the West Indies were ship-wrecked near St. Vincent. The slaves escaped and were welcomed and protected by the Carib Indians. Their intermarriage formed the Garinagu people (known as Garifuna today). The Garinagu still spoke Arawak. They remained on those two islands where they traded with the French. In 1795, the British took control of their islands to start sugar cane plantations. In 1797, British relocated all the Garinagu prisoners along with some black slaves to the island of Roatan in Honduras. From Roatan they moved to the Spanish fort of Trujillo and settled all along the coast from Belize through Honduras to Nicaragua.
Belizean Cultural Ambassador and Deputy Administrator of the National Institute of Culture and History. Andy Palacio has been an icon to Belize, it’s people and it’s culture.
Palacio was born and raised in the coastal village of Barranco and worked briefly as a teacher before turning to music. He sang mainly in Garifuna, an Arawakan language with a large number of words borrowed from Carib, French, and Spanish, but also composed English-only songs. He was the first musical artist from Belize to have a music video on international television. He received the award for “Best New Artist” at the Caribbean Music Awards in 1991, and was post-humously awarded the BBC3 Awards for World Music award in the Americas Category, in 2008.
A visual presentation of the new album by Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Colelctive entitled “Watina“. Formed by members of the unique African-Indigenous Garifuna community of Central America, the Garifuna Collective presents soul-stirring music that unites the legacies of Africa and the Caribbean to create a powerful and moving tribute to Garifuna culture. The album “Watina” will be released on February 27th, 2007 on the new record label Cumbancha.
More information available soon at www.cumbancha.com
- Aurelio Martinez: A voice for the people (repeatingislands.com)
- Andy Palacio : National Geographic World Music (nationalgeographic.com)
- Andy Palacio, Who Saved Garifuna Music, Dies at 47 (nytimes.com)
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