Garifuna Language, Dance and Music
(supported by Honduras and Nicaragua)
traditions of the Garifuna people originated from descendants of
African slaves rescued from Saint Vincent where they were exiled
in the 17th century for fighting English and French domination.
Communities in Belize, and on the coasts of Honduras, Guatemala
and Nicaragua share a unique Garifuna culture. An estimated
population of 11,500 live in 10 communities on the Atlantic coast
and continue to speak the language - black Carib, which blends
elements of the language spoken by the former inhabitants of Saint
Vincent with African elements. Music and dance are central and
vibrant aspects of the Garifuna communities. Traditional
instruments including drums, maracas, guitars and turtle shells
are used for religious and secular occasions.
as a mother tongue is only taught in one Belizean village.
Virtually no documentation of the language exists. The survival of
the Garifuna culture is threatened by the lack of economic
prospects, urbanization, discriminatory land measures, and the
school system's failure to acknowledge the language and culture. Migration, discrimination, and lack of government and
financial support are other factors.
Language Policy Statement of the Garifuna Nation, adopted in 1977,
seeks to secure recognition of the language and culture by the
governments of Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Policies
are aimed at documenting and developing the language. The Garifuna
action plan seeks to address concerns of the Garifuna Nation
through activities relating to land, education, language and
culture, health care and other social issues and support for
community and economic development.