Beating the Garifuna Drums

garifuna-drums-front Garifuna drums are echoing through many communities in Central America

Garifuna drums are echoing through many communities in Central America, singing ballads of their ancestral land of Yurumein, today renamed by the British to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. But their drums seldom beat on the land which Garifuna ancestors protected through generations. Labelled as cannibals by mercenary Christopher Columbus to justify exploiting and enriching Western Europe, this centuries old lie still brings humiliation and shaming of their strong and proud heritage. 

After 40 years of resistance against British soldiers and canons, over 5,000 Garifuna were transported as prisoners of war to a nearby island of Baliceaux in the 1790s where over half of the captives died as a result of cruel conditions. The survivors were exiled to a deserted island off the coast of Honduras from where they spread along the coast of Central America. This 200 years violation by the British imperialists helped create a rich empire on the other side of the Atlantic, Europe, while bringing suffering and loss of cultural identity on the other. 

Now it is time to connect the St. Vincent Garifuna with the music, language and spirituality of their ancestors with the help of young local artists. This mural was made by students from Richmond Vale Academy and Petit Bordel Secondary School. Learn more about the unique and amazing history of Yurumein, St. Vincent and the Grenadines by using 5 dollars and watch YURUMEIN (Homeland) is a 50-minute documentary that recounts the painful past of these Carib people - their near extermination at the hands of the British, the decimation of their culture on the island, and the exile of survivors to Central America over 200 years ago. 

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