I wish I were home this past weekend. If I were, I would have travelled to Honduras. There was a great celebration of the 210th anniversary of the arrival of Garinagu to Central America. The event brought together thousands of Garinagu from numerous communities in Honduras and also from Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua. It is likely that Garinagu living in the US and other parts of the world also made the trip to partake in the festivities.
Ten years ago, I travelled to Honduras for the first time for that very celebration - then the 200th anniversary of our arrival. I remember travelling behind a pick-up truck and enjoying the view of a clear, starlit night sky. Adding to its beauty and lumination was the full moon and the comet. It was a memorable treat. I got to see Ballet Folklorico Nacional de Honduras and they did a riveting performance highlighting Garifuna spirituality. I was certain someone would have onweha (spirit trance). I visited Puerto Cortez, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. If I could have afforded it, I would have visited Trujillo, Roatan and a few other Garifuna communities. I will still do so at some point in the near future. I will also visit Yurumein (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), the homeland of the Garinagu.
Well, I wasn't able to be there for the festivities but April 12 will always have significance in my life because it is the day my Ancestors arrived on Roatan after being exiled from Yurumein. Thousands had died from fighting the British in Yurumein and also from being exposed to the elements after they were left on Balliceaux, a rock island off Yurumein's coast. More died on the long and arduous journey across the Caribbean on the bottom of ships.
It was no luxury cruise and it was a forceful removal of a people from their homeland. The British called us cannibals and savages because we stood up to them. Would any civilized people allow others to invade their home? Would any civilized people invade or enslave another group of people? We fought the uncivilized and savage British. Our survival is evidence of our Ancestor's resilience. We honor them because were it not for their struggle, courage and determination, we would not be here. Other peoples, entire ethnicities and civilizations no longer exist because of their encounters with europeans; but we, the Garinagu, still exist. 210 years after our exile, we are still here and our culture is still alive. We will celebrate this day hundreds more years to come. Itarala (So be it).