Garinagu people, who were never slaves, have been able to preserve a rich and unique Afro-Caribbean heritage. Also, the traditions, deep sense of kinship and participation in community cultural activities have provided a sense of solidarity and cultural identity during times of turmoil.
Music, dance and story telling, together with our extraordinary language, traditional foods, clothing, art and handicrafts and natural medicines, all come together to form our cultural identity. In 2001 UNESCO declared the Garifuna Language, Music and Dance a Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.Belief in and respect for the ancestors is at the very core of Garifuna culture. We believe that the departed ancestors mediate between the individual and the external world. If a person behaves and performs well then he will have good fortune. If not, then the harmony that exists in relationships with others and the external world will be disrupted leading to misfortune and illness.
When this occurs, a spiritual leader, called a “Buyei” helps the family communicate with the deceased in the Temple. In preparation of these spiritual gatherings with healing, drumming and dancing, a feast of seafood, meat and cassava bread is prepared.
The Garifuna language is primarily based on Arawak, but has also adopted many French, Spanish and English words due to the turbulent history of the people. The traditional foods are cassava, banana, plantain, and fish.