April 12 is the annual Garifuna Settlement Day Festival in Punta Gorda, Roatan. Every year, Garifuna communities all over Honduras celebrate the arrival of Garifuna people to Honduras.
A little background story….
The Garinagu (plural for Garifuna) are descendants of Arawak Indian and African descent peoples from the island of St. Vincent. In the 1600’s, a slave ship carrying slaves from West Africa shipwrecked off the coast of St. Vincent. The surviving slaves settled on the island of St. Vincent and began to mix with the Arawak Indians. This mix of people is what gave birth to the Garifuna nation, also known as the Black Caribs.
During the 1700’s, the British were colonizing all throughout the Caribbean and they wanted to do the same to the Garifuna people. Since Garinagu were never slaves, they opposed and went to war with the British. They eventually lost the war and were exiled from St. Vincent. On April 12, 1797 the Garifuna landed on the island of Roatan and founded the first Garifuna community in Central America, Punta Gorda, Roatan.
Flamingo Cultural Center Program – Garifuna Settlement Day
This year we are very excited to be celebrating 220 years of survival. At Flamingo Cultural Center we have a day planned that will satisfy those who are culturally curious. Below is what you can expect to find at the center on April 12, 2017.
Breakfast – we are aware that visitors come to our beautiful community early that day to catch the mini parade. We’ll have some quick breakfast items for sale like the Honduran favorite, baleada ( flour tortilla with refried beans and cheese) coconut bread with butter, and coffee.
Lunch/Dinner – What is a festival without some delicious local food! Our menu will include island favorites like coconut rice ‘n’ beans, Garifuna dishes like machuca soup of course and Honduran natural drinks such as Horchata (a delicious and refreshing rice milk drink).
Honorary Guest – Gilbert Whitfield
Gilbert Whitfield is a man from San Diego, California who didn’t find out he was Garifuna until the later years of his life. During a trip to St. Vincent, Gilbert visited the Garifuna museum and began taking pictures of some of the exhibits. Unbeknownst to him, it was illegal to take pictures, and a couple of minutes after snapping some, he was arrested by local authorities for violation of the picture taking law. Little did he know, Mr. Whitfield was being led to the story that connected him to his grandmother, Ebby, a Garifuna woman from the island of St. Vincent who survived the war in the 1700’s. Gilbert’s story will send chills down your spine as you listen to him. He will be sharing his story with our guests and we would be delighted to have you listen. Read more about Gilbert’s fascinating story here.
Historian – Alfred Arzu
Mr. Arzu is not only part of our staff; he is like family to us as well. Alfred is full of stories, legends, and Garifuna quotes. A conversation with him will make you feel like time travelling just to learn more about what really happened in history.
Dashiki Themed Party
What’s a celebration without some good music. Join us as we close this very special day with a dance that will have you on your feet ’till morning. The party starts at 7:00pm and you can purchase your African inspired outfits right here at the cultural center. We will post some pics of the items we have for sale soon.
What to expect in Punta Gorda on that day
On this day you can expect lots of music, drumming, food and lots of vibrant colors as the Garinagu of Punta Gorda, Roatan grace the streets in traditional clothing. Some of the goodies to look out for are Guifity, a famous drink with medicinal and aphrodisiac properties, machuca, a seafood soup made in a coconut broth and lovely hand crafted souvenirs. The entire community celebrates so you can simply walk from end to end that day.