Garifuna refers to an ethnic group and a culture found in the coastal regions of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The Garifuna people are descendants of West African, Carib, and Arawak populations who intermixed on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent during the 18th century.
The Garifuna culture is rich and vibrant, encompassing various aspects of music, dance, language, and spirituality. One of the most notable features of Garifuna culture is its music, particularly the drumming and singing traditions. Traditional Garifuna music often features the use of drums, maracas, turtle shells, and other percussion instruments, accompanied by call-and-response singing.
The language spoken by the Garifuna people is also called Garifuna, a unique blend of Arawakan, Carib, and African languages. It is recognized as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The Garifuna language is still spoken by many Garifuna communities, although there has been a decline in its usage in recent years. The Garifuna people have a strong connection to the sea and fishing is an important aspect of their livelihood. They have a rich culinary tradition that includes dishes such as hudut (a fish stew made with coconut milk), cassava bread, and various seafood preparations.
In terms of religious beliefs, the Garifuna people have a syncretic faith that combines elements of Catholicism with traditional African and indigenous spirituality. The Dugu ceremony is an important spiritual practice among the Garifuna, involving music, dance, and offerings to ancestors.
Despite the challenges of preserving their culture in the face of modernization and migration, the Garifuna people have made significant efforts to maintain and promote their traditions. There are organizations and cultural festivals dedicated to preserving and celebrating Garifuna heritage, both within their home countries and among Garifuna diaspora communities around the world.