by Caribbean News Now Staff
PUNTA GORDA, Belize — Prime minister of Belize, Dean Barrow, on Friday called on the Garinagu people to preserve their traditions and rich culture.
The prime minister was invited by the National Garifuna Council (NGC) to speak on the occasion of the 213th anniversary of the Garifuna Settlement Day at Punta Gorda, the southernmost town in Belize.
|Belize Prime Minister, Dean Barrow|
He addressed the gathering despite incessant rain from Thursday evening, and officials of the Garifuna Council said that the rain is a way in which the Garinagu welcome special guests.
Barrow said that his government is prepared to assist the Garinagu in the form of providing facilities for them to sustain their rich culture, and said that it has already built a school for them in Punta Gorda.
The Garinagu speak their own language and the prime minister and officials of the NGC want this to continue — hence the reason for the construction of the school.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Gibe memegill wayu maha, lidanba uarani wawansera” (We continue to have many aspirations, in unity we advance).
Earlier, area representative, Peter Martinez, Minister of Human Development and Social Transformation, who is himself a Garifuna, said, "The theme reminds us that as a people, the Garinagu have a long and proud history of accomplishing great things, despite seemingly insurmountable odds when we have come together as one, under a shared vision."
Martinez added, "In our own country, the Garifuna language is widely spoken and recognized throughout our country. Our history of resistance against oppression and enslavement and our determination to always exist as a free people is well documented, taught in every primary school social studies class in this country and continues to be a source of inspiration and pride for our children."
NGC national president, Ernes Castro, gave a history of NGC and said that the various branches decided to merge as one umbrella organisation in order to promote the culture in unison and harmony.
Celebrations were held on Friday, a national holiday, to mark the occasion, in several other towns and districts, mainly Gangriga, and Belize City.