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Long Live Garifuna

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Ah say already dat His-story was not one ah me fear-foh-it subjects in school, is Dr Fraser ah does turn to foh help in His-story. Ah remember years ago, he had his own “From Whence We Came,” morning program pon Radio dealing wid Sin-Vin-sin. Ah did learn ah lot ah His-story from dat program. How de Caribs, ah set ah light-skin ‘bad-John’ from South, first came and met de Arawaks, another set ah light-skin, but quiet people whom de Caribs bullied, nothing to do wid who-more-sex-shall eh. According to Doc Fraser, around 1665, one or two boat load ah enslaved black-skins from Africa capsized near to our shores, those who managed to break free of de chains, and swam ashore landed here ah free people, dey were not slaves.{{more}} Obviously or understandably, de African men married the Arawak Caribe women, mixing the two cultures. From that union came the NEW population of Black Caribbean, Black Caribes, what we know today as the Garifuna people. Jomo in de dog-house already, so ah challenge Gomry, ah Garifuna to tell de Pry-minister dat boat bring de Arawaks, boat bring de Caribs, boat bring de Africans, boat bring de Indians and Portuguese too, but de Garifuna Race, dat rich mix of African wid Arawak/Caribes was born, created or whatever yuh want to call it, right hey in SVG. Something of which we should be proud, and which explains why de Garifuna people will forever remain loyal to what is foh dem Sweet Yuremi, Hairoun or Sin-Vin-sin!

De Garifunas wasted no time, dey grew in strength and numbers, ah Progressive, Prosperous People (PPP), who eventually took full control of dis land. Dey dedicated them-selves to planting, hunting and fishing, and trafficking thru de islands, Today if dey desire to return, dey could be no discrimination. Is de same struggle de Jews had trying to regain dey land dat de Lord gave to fore-father, Abraham; dat Moses took dem to from Egypt.

By 1750, word had got around dat we had de best fertile soil, dah’s when de colonialist began to arrive. First de French, and den de real trick-stars, de British. Their main desire was to obtain whether by trick or purchase, all de fertile lands belonging to the Garifunas to plant sugar cane. But de Garifunas, led by Hero Chatoyer refused to give up their lands, and simple so, de British declared open war pon our ancestors.

Our Garifuna ancestors were no match foh de British, Chatoyer was murdered and our people surrendered. Dat is when de British drove some four thousand Garifunas off mainland SVG, from dey bona fide home and dumped dem on Balliceaux island to die. Balliceaux as we all know has no water, is parched dry, no vegetation, no shade, dat is why in no time some two thousand Garifuna men, women and children died from starvation, dehydration and die-ah-rear. If dat is not Genocide, den tell me what is. Let Rape-arrear-shun begin at Balliceaux way real suffering took place. De Garifuna Story says dat about two thousand who managed to survive in de concentration camp on Balliceaux, were again driven off to Roatan, an island off Honduras, once more to die. But de Garifuna is resilient, dey survived and have multiplied to over seven hundred thousand, scattered all over north and central America. My father was born in British Honduras. Chalkdust sang ah Kaiso “de more Africans dey kill de more Africans keep coming.” De same thing could be applied to de Garifuna Cause.

We in SVG know only half de Garifuna Story, our Garifuna brothers and sisters know de other half which will all be documented one day. Whether or not we like Arm-in whom George Bush will not recognize in de darkest night, we must give him credit foh de respect he holds foh our Garifuna descendants, ah positive step along de Rape-arrear-shun journey. De Garifuna representatives have detected in Arm-in honesty and trustworthiness, dey have said so openly. Dis of course will anger our Pry-minister, ah Eustace hater and who is pull-it-to-kill-he die-in “sans teeth, sans claws” like Bre Lie-on in Aesop Fables. No wonder he is opposed to dem getting Honorary Vincent-shun citizenship.

Lie-Za is 100 per cent behind Arm-in oops, she say she prefer in front him. Of course she is looking forward foh ah Garifuna husband. She was upset dat pry-minister Gone-soft raising object-shuns to Arm-in’s proposal to give Honorary Vimcent-shun Citizenship to all Garifuna descendants. She asking way all de Blackness gone from de Blackest Pry-minister. Lie-Za is not easy, she asking me if is true dat ah Garifuna chief name Gorse, uses to live way de PM has his retirement home on de same Gorse Estate, so dat might explain why de PM fears de Garifunas coming to tek way we land. She reminding me how Ole Labour uses to preach anti-common-is-him and say to beware ah Gone-soft, de present PM, because he will bring common-is-him to SVG, to tek way we house and land, we wuk, pull out we teeth and finger nails. Now today, is de same Gone-soft to warn us dat de Garifunas will tek way we house, we land and we wuk. Father Forgive dem, for dey know not what dey do or say!” Long Live Garifuna. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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