11/10/2005

Book on Garifuna to be Published...


A Garifuna child participates in a cultural dance

by Tamikah Walker-Peters

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras: Honduras This Week writer Wendy Griffin has written a book about the Garifuna culture, ready for release this February.

Entitled Los Garifunas de Honduras: Su Cultura, Su Lucha y Sus Derechos Bajo Convenio 169 de la OIT (The Garifunas of Honduras: Their Culture, Their Struggle and Their Rights Under ILO Convention 169), the book explores a range of cultural characteristics of the Garifuna community including their agriculture, hunting, dances, medicines, religion, architectural environment, and crafts (including baskets and tools for the processing of the Cassava root to make bread).

One of the key areas Griffin focuses on is how the different elements of Garifuna culture are related to the environment, how ecological degradation has contributed to the loss of land and has been detrimental to the Garifuna people.

“The Garifunas need to know how to unite in the struggle and be successful in protecting their lands,” said Griffin on why she wrote the book.

To Griffin, the most important document regarding land rights is the International Labour Organization’s legal rights convention 169. ILO 169 demonstrates the Garifuna’s legal rights to lands.

OFRANEH, an ethnic federation that represents Garifunas through petitions, press releases and complaints, is also discussed in the book. By highlighting the organizations and laws dedicated to protecting Garifuna rights, Griffin hopes to strengthen isolated Garifuna communities by integrating them into a larger network.

The book discusses the Garifuna community not only from a cultural perspective but also through historical analysis. It outlines the 34 different Garifuna dances that have documented African origins, such as a Christmas dance with music that originates from the Songhai region of Ghana and the well-known Punta dance, which is still danced in the Congo region of Africa.

The Garifuna people can be classified as an Afro-indigenous group made up of a diverse cultural heritage, from the Arawak and Carib Indians to Africans who escaped slavery from the Island of St Vincent and were deported to Honduras in 1797.

Working with the Garifuna as a bilingual educator Griffin came to recognize this blend of cultures and the lack of cultural awareness between Garifunas across the northern coast of Honduras, creating a need for a written record.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Griffin came to Honduras in 1992. She has a masters degree in international development and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh. She currently works with the Garifuna Emergency Committee. They helped to write and fund the book’s publication.

More than 1,000 copies of the 310-page book will be published.

Copies of the books will be distributed to Garifuna schools in Colon, to support the Bilingual Intercultural Education Project, and to Garifuna leaders. The remaining copies will be sold in bookshops throughout Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. Readers outside those cities wishing to obtain a copy of the book can go to www.garinet.com.

News Source: Caribbean Net News