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International summit attracts delegations of Garifuna from all around the world

International summit attracts delegations of Garifuna from all around the world

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The Garifuna are a prime example of how the African Diaspora, which is “scattered” around the globe, has formed unique cultures as a result of blending with different ethnic groups.

Dr Sheila S. Walker, cultural anthropologist, made this assertion on the evening of Wednesday, March 11, while delivering the keynote address {{more}}at the launch of the International Garifuna Summit 2015 at the Peace Memorial Hall.

Celebrating under the theme ‘The Garifuna, a nation displaced – Cultural rights, economic survival and reparations’, the summit, which has attracted delegations of Garifuna people from around the world, began on Sunday, March 8 and will come to a close on Sunday, March 15.

Dr Walker, who is originally from New Jersey, USA, said that although the resulting cultures are unique in their own right, she has found them all to have similar (if not identical) elements that connect them to their African ancestors — whether it be found in their music, language, food or other customs.

“Almost all of human history is African history,” asserted Dr Walker.

She spoke extensively of her experiences travelling through Africa, the Americas, Europe and other destinations with African presences, and showed photographic and video documentation to the enthralled audience.

Dr Walker also emphasised the fact that African history is too often taught as though its roots are in slavery; being simply physical labour for European colonisers. She countered this saying that African history went back much further than this, and that Africans were not simply taken to provide physical labour but also for their technological and agricultural knowledge.

President of The Garifuna Heritage Foundation David ‘Darkie’ Williams also gave brief remarks. He spoke of the forced removal of Caribs from St Vincent to Central America, describing it as “attempted genocide”; and lamented the fact that international powers have not done enough to specifically address this atrocity and the need for reparations.

“The memory of the homeland Yurumein is revered, and still evokes painful responses,” he insisted.

Luke Browne, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture also addressed the audience, describing the summit as “a very important event” that has the full support of the Department of Culture. He also said that the summit fits in well with the other activities planned to mark National Heroes Month.

The summit is comprised of several activities which include lectures, film presentations, exhibitions, festivals, workshops, and the opening of the ‘Back to our Roots’ Garifuna Village at Heritage Square, which is taking place today.

This morning will also see the final round of lectures with panel discussions at the Peace Memorial Hall on “Centering the Garifuna Story in Discussions of Caribbean Cultures of Resistance” and “Establishing a case for reparations for the Garifuna.” (JSV)

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