The Garifuna culture that was born on St. Vincent when a slave ship capsized and the African captives swam to freedom is greatly influenced by African culture. The Garifuna are a hybrid race of West African, and Lokono (Arawak) and Kalinago (Carib) indigenous Indians, who were exiled from their homeland, Yurumein (St. Vincent), in the Grenadines by the British in 1797 to the island of Roatan off of the coast of Honduras. As a result, the culture transported and transplanted to Central America through the migration, the largest communities settling along coastal Honduras and Belize. The largest Garifuna community outside of Honduras is in the Bronx, yet the world is widely unaware of the rich history and culture. As the Garinagu (Garifuna plural) have assimilated into American culture, the result is that the language and culture are becoming lost and in danger of extinction. However it remains pure in small pockets of the community in the Bronx. In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed Garifuna Language, Music and Dance (together with 19 other endangered cultures) as a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage to Humanity.” I am a Garifuna born to native Honduran/Garifuna parents in the Bronx. My native language is English I have learned to speak Spanish over the years and I am currently learning to speak Garifuna. I am an accomplished percussionist playing various styles of music on a world-class level with numerous famous artists. This work will endeavor to present the culture and language in both English and Spanish on a grander scale through broadening the music and fusing other styles of Afro-Caribbean and world music and rhythmical styles with traditional Garifuna rhythms and language, highlighting the rhythms, music and dance. This will be achieved through the collaboration of artists such as Steve Turre, master of the conch shell, which is a staple of Garifuna rhythm, and other master musicians with whom I’ve worked, as well as the Bronx based group Libana Maraza, Garifuna artists who were born in Honduras whose native languages are Garifuna and Spanish, and James Lovell an artist born in Belize whose native languages are Garifuna and English.
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