This year’s Garifuna Survival Day, April 12th, marks the 225th anniversary of the first arrival of the Garinagu in Roatan, after being exiled by the British from their homeland Caribbean island of St. Vincent.
That fateful day marked the culmination of decades of bitter struggle by the Garinagu to protect their lands against marauding British colonists who desired these choice properties to expand their sugar plantations.
On the 225th anniversary, St Vincent Minister of Agriculture Saboto Caesar reflects on the struggle of all Garifuna.
“This morning I was awakened by text a message from a Garifuna sister in Dangriga. “Happy Garifuna Survival Day. We are celebrating 225 years today”.
“I thank the Hon. Montgomery Daniel who invited me to journey with him recently to Dangriga, Belize. The connection with our ancestors must continue to play a critical role in our forward journey”.
“Today, together we celebrate our resilience as a people. Happy Garifuna Survival Day 2022”. Caesar stated.
The struggle between the native Garinagu and the British started soon after Great Britain gained possession of St. Vincent (as well as Dominica, Tobago, Grenada, and Grenadines) through the 1763 Treaty of Paris.
Through all the attempts to break us, we have survived. Yes, there are still difficult struggles against persistent discrimination in our various communities and efforts across boundaries to dishonour and alienate Garinagu, but we must continue to honour the journey that has brought us this far.
As we continue our struggles into the future, the timeless values of our ancestors hold true in ways quite similar to the spirit of Ubuntu: – I am because we are. Our collective well-being is intricately bound to each other’s well-being. I am for you and you for me. Au buhn, amürü nu. Itarala!
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Ernesto is a senior journalist with the St. Vincent Times. Having worked in the media for 16 years, he focuses on local and international issues. He has written for the New York Times and reported for the BBC during the La Soufriere eruptions of 2021.