LGE Dancers
Garifuna History
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at California State University Northridge 2010

E-mail: garifunaheritagefoundation@yahoo.com 



Pictures courtesy of Arufudahati Ruben Reyes



Monday, September 28, 2009


The 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum had a record-breaking attendance in Los Angeles.  Cal State University Los Angeles hosted this year's event whose theme was "Preserving the Garifuna Legacy: Past, Present and Future".  Students, in a university praised for being one of the most ethnically diverse, had a chance to have a close encounter with the Garifuna people of Central America.

"It's good to be part of history" said Jose who traveled all the way from Las Vegas, NV with his family and his sister who came from Atlanta and who booked his hotel room nearby; Jose is originally from the village of Cristales, Trujillo Honduras.

"We are only two days into the new quarter here at CSULA and we had a good turn out" commented Wuendy Zavala, Garifuna Forum Chairperson and a graduate student at this college.  “We went from class to class to advertise the forum” she added.  But the large majority of people who attended the forum were proud and concerned Garinagu who came with their families wearing their traditional clothes.  Some came from as far north as Sacramento and even from New York.

The Honorable Vice Consul Designate of Belize, Ms. Pascasio, came to address the audience and she also presented the keynote speakers and presenters with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Belize Government for keeping the culture alive. 

The Latin American Society, CSULA Chapter, also presented a Certificate of Appreciation to all keynote speakers including performers and organizers.  Then it was the California State University Los Angeles' turn to present its own recognition awards.

The garifuna forum was an event that offered everything that it had advertised.  The Wanaragua Dancers delighted young and old, Ali Allie's movie screening was highly acclaimed "El Espiritu De Mi Mama".  He also announced his new project, a Garifuna trilogy series of movies to be shot on location in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Los Angeles. Greg Palacio presented 9 beautiful oil paintings and delighted the audience with his PowerPoint presentation on the present and past work of other Garifuna artists from the Diaspora like Mr. Nicholas, Pen Cayetano and Mr. Browne from St. Vincent. 

The Honorable Consul General of Yurumein, Dr. Cadrin E. Gill came to the forum with a powerful message from the Motherland and the vivid pictures of the "Vincy Homecoming 2009".  He delighted the public with the enchanting scenery of St. Vincent's mountains and luscious beaches.  We were able to appreciate the delegation which traveled from New York led by Mr. Jose Avila and The Garifuna Coalition.

Keynote speaker Professor Enita Lambey Barrett and her sister Ms. Anita Martinez made a powerful presentation; one on the Structure and Usage of the Garifuna Language and the other on the Garifuna Oral History from the Woman's Perspective.  Professor Lambey shined as the forum kept going as she presented her research and she encouraged the Garifuna academia to come together and put all different works on the Garifuna language together.  Ms. Martinez emphasized the importance that the oral history plays in the life of the Garinagu. 

The history of the Garifuna could not be better presented to the audience than what Mr. Ruben Reyes did.  He illustrated his recount of how Garinagu came about with a number of black and white and colored portraits of not only the Middle Passage, pre-garifuna history, to the actual wars sustained between the Garinagu and the British and consequently with the French.  He introduced his version of the Garifuna Flag's Emblem as well as the breakdown on the interpretation of the Garifuna clock and the names used to describe a particular time of the day and night. 

Sharron Williams Gelobter from Yurumein Law Firm made an informative presentation to a number of people who took advantage of her services as an immigration lawyer. Master drummer Carlos Domingo Alvarez led the Wanaragua Dancers with his drummers to a moving performance of a centuries old tradition.  He also spoke about the need to "take matters into our own hands"; as Garinagu, he said "we need to take pride of who we are and what we do".

The Garifuna Writers Group led by Sidney Mejia and Brother Charles enchanted the audience with the reciting of a poem to the sound of the Garifuna drum.  Angela Palacio shared information on nutrition and health and she put word out about her social network through her website www.apalacioexchange.comBelizeanartist.com was represented by Stamina who took the opportunity to give away Wanaragua posters as well as CD's and DVD's produced by his label.  Frank Palacio and Jacques Rallion presented their book "Middle Schoolin'" which was number 11 on Amazon.com last week.  Buck Pastor and Ben Flores showcased Garifuna arts and crafts as well as cd and DVD’s.  The former Consul General of Nicaragua Dr. Abaunza came as representative of Mass Mutual Financial Services and donated 10 cases of bottled water for all the people in attendance. 

The live performances were the life of the forum because they came to reassure that the oral history, the music and the dance are still alive and well in the Garifuna community not only in the United States but also in Honduras, Belize and Guatemala and there is a lot of work to do in Nicaragua to bring it back. 

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our ancestors to make it happen.  We want to thank our keynote speakers, presenters, exhibitors, Vice Consul General of Belize, Cal State LA, Student Organizations, the GAHFU board of directors and staff; Helen Laurie and Nichole Martinez, as well as  Wuendy Zavala, Garifuna Forum's Chairperson,  for a very successful and well-managed 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum.   Thank you Lawrence Nuñez for the Garifuna food donated to the keynote speakers and presenters.

The DVD will be available through GAHFU's website and the celebrity pictures will be made available through the Garifuna Forum's official media personality Mr. Francis Estrada.  GAHFU would like to congratulate Mr. Estrada for such terrific and important job of recording our history through film and pictures. 

Yours truly;

GAHFU management 

Big up GAHFU!

I want to thank GAHFU, and all who made it possible. The 5th annual forum was a big success, I was very proud to have our company ( Rootz Novelties) represented, got to meet many potential customers, made several new friends and in the process improved on my Garifuna History knowledge. All the presentations were very informative, the women point of view, the herbal information, the book signings, the drumming, the dancing, in all it was a very wonderful Garifuna experience. Thanks Cheryl and Rony, you were excellent hosts. I am already looking towards next year's. Lau bandi isien. 

Seremein Ben, Kamali, BuckRootz Novelties Inc.

Congratulations for a Job well done to you all.                    

Raymond martinez

Congratulations!  Was Dr. Gill there?

Carlos Gamboa

Cheryl & Rony

Thank you for the wonderful job that you and everyone else involved did. Buck, Kamali and I are very grateful for a successful and wonderful event. Thanks again and we look forward to next year's event.

Ben Flores

Hi Cheryl and Rony

I can not thank you enough for bringing this event to CSULA. It was an honor to work with and help you host such an incredible event.  I have been truly blessed to have met two such committed people as you two.  People like you assure that your cultural traditions are passed from generations to generations and are exposed to the great LA.

Thank you

Wuendy A.L.A.S. de Justicia

Congrats Cheryl, Rony and Ruben  Reyes

Arturo Zepeda, A.L.A.S. - CAERECEN

Its was am awesome experince!

Rhea Lambey

Dear Friends; I would like to take this opportunity to commend Garifuna American Heritage Foundation for a superb job the members have been doing since day 1. Most importantly, hosting the important Garifuna Forums that reminds each and everyone of us about our purpose and role as we are all seeking ways to preserve Garifuna for the next 1000 years. Though I missed this year's forum, I did follow it and liked the topics. I must also commend the organization for showcasing its accomplishment by connecting with other individuals and volunteers who made this forum a success.  With love and Respect. 

Lachamuru Jerry Castro

Hello Cheryl,

Congratulations to you and your organization  on a job well done.  The forum was highly inspiring.  Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the experience.

Enita Barrett, Professor
College of Education and Human Services.
University of North Florida

You are welcome. In reality all thanks for this important event goes to the organizational skills of GAHFU and to Cheryl and Rony. What you are doing is accelerating the pace of Garinagu recognition. SEREMEIN

                                                                                                                                                                                   Au le Bill Flores

Hi Cheryl,

I can't thank you and Rony enough for organizing such an outstanding event and for allowing me to be a part of it.  Thanks a million.  Yes, it was a resounding success.
Frank Palacio


Thanks very much for this letter.  I want to also thank you and Rony for all the hard work that you put into planning, organizing and executing the Garifuna Forum 09.  It was a great event.  I wish more people in LA attended but I love it and will give you my suggestions another time.

I know that the Garifuna Forum takes place in a different city every year.  Do you know yet where the 2010 Forum will be?

Angela Palacio

  • The Officers, Members, and Supporters of

    The Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United (GAHFU)
    Special Thanks
    To the following for their participation, support and contribution to
    5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum '09

    Wuendy Zavala, The Garifuna Community Forum Chairperson 
    Dr. Ochoa & Dr. Cristales, CSULA Latin American Studies Department
    A.L.A.S. de Justicia 
    El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MeCha)
    Latin American Society (LAS) 
    Latin American Studies Department, CSULA
    Phi Alpha Theta
    Union Salvadoreña de Estudiantes Universitarios, USEU
    Dr. Cadrin E. Gill, Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & The Grenadines, and GAHFU Board of Director
    Dr. Michele Goldwasser, GAHFU Board of Director
    Anita Martinez, Community Activist & Educator
    Dr. Oliver Greene, Ethnomusicologist, Georgia State University
    Enita Lambey Barrett, Professor
    Ruben Reyes, Entrepreneur,  Teacher & Writer
    Sharron Williams Gelobter, Immigration Lawyer
    Carlos Domingo Alvarez, Master Drummer
    Greg Palacio, Garifuna Natural Life Artists
    Ali Allié, Filmmaker
    Arteshia Welch, Miss Garifuna Heritage 2009-10
    Bennie Davenport, The Blazer Learning Center
    Frank Palacio, Teacher & Writer
    Jacques Rallion, Teacher & Writer
    Hon. Roland Yorke, Consul General of Belize, Los Angeles
    Hon. Ms. Dellone Pascasio, Vice Consul of Belize, Los Angeles
    Culcha Band 
    Punta Cartel Band
    Bootsy Rankin’, Recording Artist
    Georgette Lambey, Recording Artist
    Jack Arzu, Recording Artist
    Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers
    Rolando Castillo "Ideal", Recording Artist
    Angela Palacio, Entrepreneur
    Ben Flores, Entrepreneur
    Buck Pastor, Entrepreneur
    Francis Estrada, Photographer & Videographer
    Lawrence & Erika Nunez Family, Caterers
    The Garifuna Writers Group
    Stamina’s Belizeanartists.com
    The Official GAHFU Media Personality Mr. Francis Estrada

  • To all of the Members of the Official Garifuna Wanaragua Dance Troupe of Los Angeles 

GAHFU, Inc. proudly presents its 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum '09 on Saturday, September 26 2009 at California State University Los Angeles - Student Union Theater from 10 am to 6 pm.  Admission is free and it is open to students and the general public.  Parking fee is $6 for all day!  This year's theme is "Preserving The Garifuna Legacy: Past, Present and Future".  The forum will bring together keynote speakers, writers, associations, businesses, professional services, artists & painters, performers and bands from the Garifuna diaspora: Dr. Cadrin E. Gill, Consul Genral from St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Dr. Oliver Greene from Georgia State University, Enita Lambey Barrett from West Indies University, Greg Palacio, Garifuna painter, Carlos Domingo Alvarez, Garifuna Master Drummer, Ruben Reyes, Garifuna Culture & Language School Teacher, Sharron Williams Gelober, Immigration Lawyer and Anita Martinez on Garifuna History from a woman's perspective.  Also, live performances by Culcha Jam Band, Bootsy Rankin', Georgette Lambey, Jack Arzu, from Sarasota, Florida Ideal, Punta Cartel Band, Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers.   Also, documentary film scrennings: "Play, Jankunu Play" and Ali Allie's "El Espiritu De Mi Mama" (Spirit of My Mother).   

Admission is free.  All day parking $6


Sponsored by the following student organizations on campus at Cal State University Los Angeles USEU (Union Salvadoreña de Estudiantes Universitarios) MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan) and Phi Alpha Theta and LAS (Latin American Students) and many more to join...

Make your donation today to help us make the 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum 09 a successful event.  Your donation will towards paying the bands, performers and artists that will be participating on this international event.  Haga su donacion y su contribucion ayudara a pagar las bandas, artistas y presentadores que participaran en este magno evento.

Cal State University Los Angeles STUDENT UNION

5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum

California State University Los Angeles

Saturday, September 12, 2009

“Preserving the Garifuna Legacy: Past, Present and Future”

General Program

Yurumein Procession (Grand Entrance) by Garifuna Community of LA (LA Room 10:30am–10:45 am)

Opening Remarks by Cheryl L. Noralez, Michele Goldwasser, Dr. Ochoa, Rony Figueroa and introduction of the School’s organizations  (Los Angeles Room 10:45am–11:00 am)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Cadrin E. Gill Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & The Grenadines – Vincy Homecoming 2009 (LA Room 11:00 am -11:30am)

Keynote Speaker: Ruben Reyes “Garifuna Language & History” (LA Room 11:30–12:15 pm)

Lunch Break – DJ Music 12:15 – 1:00 pm (Student Union Restaurants 1st floor)

Keynote Speaker: Professor Enita Lambey Barrett “Structure & Usage of The Garifuna Language”

(L A Room 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Oliver Greene “Discussion on Garifuna Mass Dügü” (LA Room 1:45 pm–2:30 pm)

Keynote Speaker: Anita Martinez “Garifuna History & Culture from The Woman’s Perspective” (Alhambra Room 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm)

Workshop: Carlos Domingo Alvarez, Master Drummer “Garifuna Drumming Styles” *Bring your own drums: Garifuna drum, conga, djembe, batá, etc. (Alhambra Room 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm)

Workshop: Sharron Williams Gelobter “Immigration Law” (San Gabriel Room 4:30 pm – 5:15 pm)

Art Exhibit: Greg Palacio, “Garifuna Heritage” Oil paintings will be on display throughout the event. Presentation held @ (LA Room 2:30 – 3:00 pm)

Movie Screening: Ali Allié, Filmmaker “Spirit Of My Mother” (San Gabriel Room 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm)

Movie Screening: Dr. Greene, Ethnomusicologist “Play, Jankunu Play” (San Gabriel Room 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm)

Performance by Culcha Jam Punta Rock Band (LA Room 2:45 pm – 3:30 pm)

Performance by Ideal – Rolando Castillo backed by CJPRB (LA Room 3:30 pm – 3:45 pm)

Performance by Georgette Lambey (LA Room 3:45 pm – 4:00 pm)

Performance by Bootsy Rankin’ (LA Room 4:00 pm – 4:15 pm)

Performance by Jack Arzu (LA Room 4:15pm – 4:30 pm)

Performance by Punta Cartel Band (LA Room 4:30 pm – 5:15 pm)

Closing Remarks by GAHFU, Inc. CSULA Student Organizations and Latin American Studies Department Dr. Ochoa) (LA Room 5:15pm–5:30 pm)

Performance by Libaña Baba Cultural Drummers –Closing Performance (LA Room 5:30pm–6:00 pm)

*Information Booths: Garifuna Writers’ Group, Angela Palacio-Entrepreneur, Buck Pastor and Ben Flores-Garifuna Enterprises, Yurumein Immigration Law Firm, www.belizeanartists.com, and Frank Palacio & J.P. Rallion, Teacher & Authors.   www.garifunaheritagefoundation.org


“Structure and Usage of The Garifuna Language”

Enita Lambey Barrett was born in the beautiful village of Seine Bight, Stann Creek District, Belize.  She received her high school diploma from Belize Junior Secondary School #2 now known as Gwen Lizarraga High School and Belmopan Comprehensive School. She holds a teaching diploma from the Belize Teacher’s College and a Bachelors in Secondary School English Education from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica.  She also holds two Masters Degrees from the University of North Florida- One in Educational Leadership and the other in Secondary School Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).. 

Mrs. Barrett entered the teaching profession in 1983 and remained a teacher until 1998 when she became principal of Gwen Lizarraga High School.  She held this position for four years before retiring and moving to the United States to pursue her terminal degree.  She has taught at the University of Belize and played the vital role of writing and teaching an Introduction to Garifuna course at the University of the West Indies.  This course has been offered by the UWI since it was approved in 2003.

Mrs. Barrett’s passion is the study and research of the Garifuna language.  She has spent the last ten years collaborating with the UWI Department of Language Linguistics and Philosophy in an attempt to understand the linguistic make-up of the Garifuna Language.  It is her hope that this knowledge will enable us to write more linguistically accurate Garifuna grammar text books for use in our Garifuna classes.

Currently, Mrs. Barrett is on the dissertation year of her Doctorate in Educational Leadership at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida where she is also an adjunct professor of ESOL Methods and Curriculum.

"Update on Vincy Homecoming 2009"

Dr. Cadrin E. Gill is the Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & The Grenadines for the Western United States - A Garifuna native of Sandy Bay, Garifuna Reservation in Yurumein. Dr. Gill practices family medicine in his clinic in Los Angeles, California.  He has been working in the Garifuna commuity of Los Angeles since the early nineties.  Dr. Gill will be bringing us an update on what transpired at the Vincy Reunion during the month of July 2009 where all natives of St. Vincent & The Grenadines were invited to go back home and celebrate a big reunion which included the trip organized in New York by The Garifuna Coalition USA.  Several Garinagu from New York traveled to Yurumein to be part of this historic reunion and Dr. Gill represented GAHFU, Inc. and the Garinagu from Los Angeles, California.  

"Discussion on Garifuna Mass Dügü and Screening of "Play Jankunu, Play""

Dr. Oliver N. Greene, Jr. Associate Professor, World Music / Ethnomusicology
Oliver N. Greene, Jr., a native of LaGrange, Georgia, is an associate professor of music at Georgia State University where he teaches courses on traditional world music, the popular music of select countries and carnival traditions of the Americas, and has produced numerous world music shows. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology (emphasis, ethnomusicology) from Florida State University, Master of Music degrees from Southern Methodist University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He has published articles in the Black Music Research Journal (2002, 1999), Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of Music (2005), and the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (1998) and Concise Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (2008), as well as in the book The Garifuna: A Nation Across Borders (2005). He has created websites on Garifuna music and ritual arts traditions. In 2005 he presented a paper at the Seminaire d'Ethnomusicologie at the International Gwoka Music Festival in Guadaloupe, French West Indies and directed a study abroad to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, Brazil. He has presented at meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, Center for Black Music Research (CBMR), and International Council of Traditional Music. As a recipient of a Rockefeller fellowship at the CBMR in Chicago in 2000, he conducted fieldwork and research on the relationships between art, dance and music in the expression of ethnic identity in the wanaragua (Jankunú) ritual of the Garifuna of Belize. He has also conducted research on popular music and ancestor veneration rituals of the Garifuna in Belize and Honduras. His documentary film, "Play, Jankunú Play: The Garifuna Wanaragua Ritual in Belize" (2007) has been screened at scholarly conferences, universities, film festivals and cultural art affairs in Aukland, New Zealand; Salvador da Bahia, Brazil; Dangriga, Belize; Belgrade, Serbia; Honolulu, Hawaii; the Bronx, NY; Rutgers, NJ; and Atlanta, GA.

"Garifuna History and Culture from a Woman's Perspective"

Ms. Anita Martinez, MA will be doing a workshop on Garifuna culture and history from the traditional oral history point of view.  In addition, she will be giving an introduction to one of the few Arawakan languages still spoken in the Caribbean, Garifuna, as spoken by the Garinagu or 'Black Caribs' of Belize.  The workshop will give students and the general public the ability to understand the patterns while exposing them to the structure of the language, including its similarities to other Arawakan languages.  This will take place in a context where the participants learn to appreciate the sociocultural norms associated with an indigenous Caribbean language. 

Ms. Martinez has been working in the Garifuna community of Los Angeles for a long time as she embarked in a project of her own called Wagia Meme (We are the same) which she later turned it into a non-profit organization.  The Wagia Meme Dancers is a group of Garifuna youth from the Los Angeles area dedicated to the preservation of the Garifuna traditional dances and the culture in general.  

As the president and founder of her organization, Anita put long hours of hard work and practice sessions into it in the comfort of her own house.  The backyard of her home was the place that welcomed a large group of children and teenagers along with their parents every Saturday for the purpose of not only teaching them the traditional dances like the punta, chumba, gunchei and the paranda but also the drumming and singing (Gayusa).  Also, the very own oral history was passed on to them the same way she learned it from her grandmother and mother as well.

The Wagia Meme Dancers have performed in many festival in the Los Angeles area as well as in the following venues:  The Rosebowl in Pasadena, The Bob Marley Day Fest in Long Beach, The Los Angeles Sports Arena, UCLA, USC, CSUN just to name a few.     


"Garifuna Language & History"

RUBEN REYES is an entrepreneur in Los Angeles, California, born in the city of Tela, Atlantida, Honduras.  At the age of 9 his parents relocated to the Garifuna community of El Triunfo de La Cruz.  Ruben later developed interest in learning the Garifuna language and culture. He then became a Garifuna activist.  At age 11 Ruben built his own 22mm. caliber rifle using wood and parts of and old refrigerator.  Built guitars for the local youth band, and sort of souvenirs.  At the age 14 Ruben became very active in the church leadership (Iglesia San José).  He later served 3 years in the First Artillery Batallion in Zambrano, he held the rank of sergeant. He was decorated best soldier by then Honduran President Policarpo Paz Garcia.  He attended the parachuting School in Támara, Honduras, where he became the first Garifuna/afro descendent to graduate parachute from the First Artillery Batallion.  Ruben Reyes was born with a natural ability to draw. He won several drawing and painting contests, in college and in the military.   1981 Graduated as public accountant in Instituto Triunfo de la Cruz, in Tela, Honduras.  1982-1984 Migrated to New York, he became (patronato) president of El Triunfo New York, and was leader of the Garifuna soccer team (San José). He managed to send band instruments to the school (Esteban Guardiola) in El Triunfo De La Cruz, Honduras.  1984-1985 Founded Clamor Garifuna “Lamumeha Garifuna” Radio program in Radio Impacto, Tela, Honduras bringing the Garifuna language to the air for the first time in the region.  Became the first president of OFRANEH (Fraternal Organization of Blacks in Honduras) branch of Triunfo de la Cruz.  Translated the Honduras National Anthem into the Garifuna language.  Was elected president of SONHOCA (Society of Black Honduran in California) 

He was a pupil of Dr. Jorge Bernardez and became very fluent and knowledgeable in Garifuna.  He’s been working of a trilingual dictionary.  He translated the Guatemalan National anthem into the Garifuna language.  Ruben also participated in coordinating and was a keynote speaker in the  three-day seminar “El Garifuna de frente al Siglo XXI”, in Trujillo, Honduras.  He researched information regarding Garifuna National hero Juan Francisco Bulnez (Walumugu) and hired a Garifuna artist to draw his image.  In 1998, he spearheaded a relief effort for Honduras after hurricane Mitch.  He also designed a Garifuna Flag Emblem.  He also produced and published the First Garifuna Ancestry Tree which included over 3000 people from Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and the United States.  He is also a Certified trilingual (Garifuna, English and Spanish) interpreter to immigration court in Los Angeles County.  Between 2004 and  2005, he co-founded “Wáfadaha Úwara”  (Let’s cooperate together) in Los Angeles and in Honduras.  The organization installed the first Internet Café in the Garifuna community of El Triunfo de la Cruz providing employment for 4 residents during 12 months.  The Blazer Center and Ruben managed to ship 15 computers to 7 Garifuna communities in Honduras.  Ruben also invented his own version of the Garifuna Clock.  He also led the shipping of an Ambulance to the hospital “Luagu Hátuadi Waduheñu” in Ciriboya, Honduras.  GAHFU’s Garifuna Language and History class presentation in Cal State Northridge.  In 2009, he translated the US National Anthem into Garifuna.  Since 1995, Mr. Reyes through his plumbing company “Cal Plumbing” has employed and trained over 15 garinagu in Southern California.  He teaches the Garifuna Culture & Language Class in Los Angeles as a joint venture with GAHFU and The Blazer Learning Center.  He is  co-producing  a Trilogy Garifuna Film with Ali Allie.    And finally, he also hosts “The Sásamu Show”, an online television show.



“Garifuna Heritage Art Exhibit”

Ulmar “Gregory” Palacio an indigenous Garifuna artist is from Dangriga, Belize. Greg P as he is referred to has 2 teenagers Nisie & Arunei. He is from a family of 9 and the son of Rita & Clifford Palacio. Greg worked 24 years for Delta Air Lines prior to taking an early out and returning to college in order to further his career in Game, Art, & Design with concentration in Animation. To date he has released 11 postcards, 2 calendars in 2008 & 2006, also a book-cover named 'A Garifuna Tale'. His exhibits: (2009) Central American exhibit downtown Los Angeles, November 19th art show LA Maba Cultural Center alongside Isiah Nicholas, Atlanta Rialto in conjunction with honoring the late great Andy Palacio coordinated by Oliver Greene (2008), El Camino College during black history month (2004), participated in first Garifuna Forum, also a poster-art for a traveling live stage show by Marvelous Production,  in 2002/1992 Pasadena Public Library, California, 1998, Fields Museum and Noyes Gallery Chicago Illinois, plus Cambridge University Boston in conjunction with Andrea Leeland's Garifuna Journey, invited by NICH to Baron B liss Institute of Arts Belize, Central America (1994) and collaborated with known African American photographer Dennis O. Callwood in 1992 at the Black Gallery in Los Angeles. In addition he won 1st place in a competition for *Vision 2000 held in Hollywood. His masterpiece “Dügü” was sought after by Smithsonian but kept producing album/CD covers for Punta Rock, Bruckdown, Soca & Reggae artists, which made his artwork collectable internationally.  Greg is also a member of a cultural drum band based in Los Angeles known as "Libaya Baba".


“Drumming Workshop” (Bring your own drum)

CARLOS DOMINGO ALVAREZ is a biomedic electronic technician at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He is also a cultural activist, Wanaragua dancer, drummer and educator.

Mr. Alvarez was born in Barrio Cristales, Trujillo, Colon Honduras.  He started his musical career as a drummer in his village.  He performed regularly at the local events gaining the vast experience he has acquired now as a Garifuna Master Drummer.  

As he arrived in Los Angeles, California, he joined Costeños Band which happened to be a very popular Honduran band locally; eventually recording an album which became very popular in radio stations in Central America.  Mingo also had the opportunity to work in 1978 with the very popular Isabel FLores and Lady Lard in the album titled "Habinaguile Garinagu" recorded in Brooklyn, NY under John Mariano's production.  He also worked with Andy Palacio playing the Garifuna drums for Andy's early albums which he recorded in Los Angeles.  As his style and popularity grew among Garinagu in LA, he was later invited to join Chatuye Band in 1981 which landed a juicy contract with Arhoolie record label and recorded the album "Heartbeat In The Music".  Chatuye Band went on the road performing at different venues including a unique appearance during the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, GA.  But before the Atlanta Olympics, back in 1984 at Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, he directed and performed with Walagante Dance Group.  Mr. Alvarez is also the co-founder of the Preservation of the Garifuna Culture Group and The Garifuna Settlement Day Committee in Los Angeles which is still around organizing the 19th of November Celebrations since then.

Mingo worked with the very first Garifuna Summit committee and celebrated their event at Medgar Evers College in New York on the 4th of July 1991.  He was also part and co-organizer of the 2nd Garifuna Summit at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in 1992. He also co-organized the Garifuna Culture Towards The New Millennium Summit in Honduras during the month of July, 1996.  But most importantly, he helped organize and performed as a dancer and drummer the Los Angeles Wanaragua ensemble around 1997. This wanaragua group got a special invitation to perform during the Central American Independence Day celebrated by the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California in 1997. 


"Immigration Law Workshop"

Sharron Williams Gelobter is a Garifuna who was born in Punta Gorda, Belize and raised in Belize City and New York City.  She immigrated to the United States in 1978 and lived in New York City until 2001 then relocated to Northern California.  Ms. Williams Gelobter is an attorney and the principal of Yurumein Law Firm in Oakland, CA.  She is admitted to practice before the State Bar of California.  She practices broad-based immigration law, general civil litigation and debtor bankruptcy law.  In her immigration practice, Ms. Williams Gelobter  has managed a high-volume caseload of various nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions, citizenship applications, family-based petitions, and re-entry permits for both corporate and non-corporate clients throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Ms. Williams Gelobter also represents individual clients in deportation and removal proceedings, asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile petitions, and immigration appeals to the BIA.  In her bankruptcy practice she represents consumers and small businesses filing for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Ms. Williams Gelobter worked in the New York fashion industry for 10 years.  During this period she volunteered as an advocate for undocumented women working in the sweat shops of the industry.  After leaving the industry and before attending law school, Ms. Williams Gelobter became an advocate at the United Nations for women’s human rights issues.

She sits on the boards of the Charles Houston Bar Association (Northern California’s membership association for attorneys of African descent), the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.  Besides being a full time practicing attorney and a mom, Ms. Williams Gelobter is a writer of children’s stories, short stories and poetry.  She has a long history as a spoken word poet in New York City.

Ms. Williams Gelobter received her first bachelor’s degree in marketing for the fashion industry from the Fashion Institute of technology, a second bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and Political Science from Hunter College of the City University of New York and her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in New York City.

She is married to Michel Gelobter, an environmental entrepreneur and academic.  They have three children Troy, Rhys and Nathan.


“Spirit of My Mother - Film Screening"

Alí Allié is an independent filmmaker; video editor and cinematographer based in Los Angeles.  He got into film at age 12 using an 8mm film camera to do stop motion animations with clay and action figures.  Later, he attended film school at California Institute of the Arts and made two Spanish-language short films (“Mi Piñata” and “Agua en La Villa”) which screened at a variety of international film festivals.  After spending time in Honduras working in an orphanage, and making several Garinagu friends, Alí returned to make a film there, “El Espíritu de mi Mamá”, which has shown all over the world.

The plot follows Sonia, a young Garifuna woman, who leads a troubled life as a domestic in Los Angeles.  She is plagued by a haunting memory of a relationship with an American soldier.  One day she has a dream of her deceased mother who calls upon her to go back to her homeland and honor her.  Sonia journeys back to the North Coast of Honduras, and elders there encourage her to perform a dügü in honor of her mother so that she may rest in peace.  This Spanish-language film provides a unique look at Garifuna traditions, and also touches on themes about the everlasting life of the soul and the idea that we are only temporary travelers on this earth.

Film critic Alejandro Adams summed up Alí’s cinematic approach: “...While Espíritu is deducibly the work of someone outside the Garifuna culture, someone fascinated with its customs, rituals, and modes of interaction, there is a contravening sense that the filmmaker is at ease with the central spiritual dilemma, with the esoteric elements... which do not enchant him but which he takes for granted, approaching them with remarkable confidence and facility.”

Alí is currently casting Garinagu for his new 3-part movie, which will be shot mostly in Garifuna language.

"Play, Jankunu Play" Documentary Screening by Dr. Oliver Greene - Georgia State University

"The documentary film Play Jankunú Play introduces us to a fascinating Garifuna ritual tradition which continues to flourish in Belize, one of the lesser known countries of Central America. Oliver Greene, the film's author, draws upon his extensive fieldwork to bring to life this little known segment of African Diaspora culture. With visual allusions to parallel traditions in Jamaica, the Bahamas, Ghana, and elsewhere, the film offers the viewer a rich tapestry of Garifuna dance, drumming, and song, explicated by revealing commentary. We are provided with insight into the Garifuna people and reflections on the meaning of the arts in human life. Scholarly in depth, the film will appeal to a large audience including those with interest in world dance, world music, and in the African Diaspora." –Richard A. Long, Atticus Haygood Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Emeritus, Emory University, Atlanta, GA




Ideal / Rolando Castillo from Sarasota, Florida

Booty Rankin'

Georgette Lambey

Jack Arzu

Libaña Baba Cultural Drummers



“Garifuna Writers’ Group”

Sidney Mejia was a drummer in the Sacred Heart School marching band as a nine year old. He was the secretary of the Garifuna Settlement Day Committee in his native Dangriga, Belize as a teenage and had his first poem published before graduating high school.

After graduation from High School, Sidney migrated to the United States in 1977 to further his studies. He received certificates in Marketing and Management from Los Angeles City College, a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Management and a Master of Health Administration degree from the University of Southern California. Mr. Mejia has also earned a preliminary teaching credential from Los Angeles Unified School District where he worked as a teacher’s assistant for four years and as a middle school teacher for six years. He has lectured and/or taught classes on the Garifuna culture and drumming at many colleges, universities and cultural institutions throughtout the United States.

Over the years, Mr. Mejia has expanded his areas of interests to include the arts, entertainment and culture, healthcare, community service and ecommerce. He is co-founder of the Garifuna Writers Group of Los Angeles and volunteers as a consultant on culture to the Belizean consulate in Los Angeles.

In 1981, Sidney co-founded the Garifuna musical group Chatuye and co-wrote and produced the critically acclaimed album “Ahmuti.” The group also recorded a CD on the Arhoolie label. Chatuye has performed at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the Roxy Theater, Wolftrap, UCLA, Stanford, Berkeley, USC, The Jamestown Arts Festival, Festival at the Lake in Oakland, California Institute of the Arts and numerous other venues. The group is planning a reunion after a twelve year haitus. Two new CDs will be released shortly.

Sidney, along with his brother Charles own and operate Chatuye Books and Music. Mr. Mejia serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Publisher. Charles is the Chief Financial Officer and Editor. Chatuye Books and Music is dedicated to selling Charles’ poems and essays and Sidney’s lyrics, music, videos, books, plays, lesson plans, and essays. Sidney has recently completed a play entitled “The Life and Times of Chatoyer” and a book of his lyrics, “Songbook Chatuye” co-written by Simeon Pillich. He is also working on a revision of Don Justo’s memoir “The Garifuna Story Now and Then” and has dedicated his life to becoming an expert in Garifuna literature and music. 


Angela Palacio A New Herb Shoppe
Herbalist with Nature’s Sunshine

I used to have allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and acid reflux.  It seems like you name it I had.  I was on weekly allergy shots, daily Claritin for allergies, high blood pressure medication and Nexium and other meds for about five years.  I started taking NSP products and now I no longer take meds.  I take herbs which are food for the body they nourish your body and heal you of ailments.  How many people do you hear of come off high blood pressure medication?

My mission is to educate you about herbs, the uses and the healing properties.  Your wellness is my concern.  I will be presenting the following products, one product every hour.  I will also have information cards how to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, allergies, prostate support, back pain and other ailments.

Featuring Nature’s Sunshine Products
Thai-Go, Liquid Chlorophyll,
Silver Shield & Noni

Frank Palace, Author  “Middle Schoolin’”

I am a third generation teacher. My grandfather and my father were both
educators. My parents raised me and my six siblings in a home that was
both loving and nurturing; yet at the same time there was discipline and
high expectations. It was expected that we would go to high school, college,
and then obtain good, professional jobs and become productive members of

I grew up in Belize, a small country in Central America, which is a former
British colony. I attended Catholic school for my primary and secondary
education. Needless to say, the discipline and education were of excellent
quality. Looking back, when I became a teacher, I had no clue about the types
of students, behavior, attitude problems, or culture of the public schools in
the inner city of Los Angeles.

My first experience with the U.S. education system was at the junior
college level. I later enrolled at California State University-Los Angeles,
majoring in English, and then obtained a teaching credential and a master’s
degree in education from Chapman University in Orange County, California.
In the summer of 2005, I was one of a select group of teachers chosen to
attend the UCLA Writing Project as a fellow.

I chose teaching as a career because I wanted to work with this country’s
youths to help them improve their lives. By igniting a spark in them, they
can grow and later achieve their full potential. I also wanted to bring honesty,
integrity, and dedication to my profession. I still do. Our young people need
to see adults on a daily basis who are worthy of emulation.

Jacques Rallion, Author  “Middle Schoolin’”

Jacques Rallion I grew up in a home where discipline and education went hand in hand. My dad was a French adventurer who stumbled into El Salvador, Central America, after trying to relocate to Cuba before the Castro era began. My mom was a housewife who made sure that my siblings and I always got up early in the morning to a warm breakfast before we left for school and had a good family lunch when we got home. My dad made sure I was in school every single day from an early age.

One day in Kindergarten, I didn’t want to go to school and I thought that if I cried my eyes out, I could stay home watching cartoons. He sent me back to school, with a stern look. Later on in high school, he also praised me with positive remarks whenever he saw me studying late at night. Thanks to my dad, my siblings and I have spoken French since we were small, even though we were born and raised in a Spanish-speaking country.

I came to the United States with the determination to learn English and to get a college education. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and then worked as an application’s engineer at a local company. I then obtained both my teaching credential and my master’s degree in education from Chapman University in Orange, California.

I obtained my National Board Certification for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in 2006. I had to put together a portfolio by videotaping myself teaching, gathering student work and teaching materials, and providing detailed analyses of my teaching, comprised of my observations, reflections on ways to improve, and general insights. In addition, I had to go to an assigned testing center to answer six essay-like questions related to what I teach: Computer Technology. I waited for the results with much anticipation. When they became available and I read, “Congratulations, you are a National Board Certified Ed Teacher (NBCT)!” on the NBPTS Web page, I fell to my knees and gave thanks.  I have worked in the field of education, first as a teacher’s assistant, then as a computer lab and science lab instructor. I have taught science, math, and now computer technology. I also taught English as a second language (ESL) and then computer literacy to adults at night school.



Dudley Augustine "Stamina" WWW.BELIZEANARTISTS.COM

Belizeanartists.com promotes and supports belizean talent.  It is the foundation of a new generation of Belizean-Americans.  Belizean is a people of unique diversity in race, culture and heritage.  The work is just in its infancy stage and your input and dedication is important to help guide and stabilize an environment that is here to channel the next generation of Belizean Artist to higher grounds and more achievements in the field that they have chosen.  Belizeans live throughout the world and having accomplished things that we might not hear or know about, BelizeanArtist.Com is also here to serve as an information and networking center for past, present and future artist to learn, educate, experience and expand their horizons.

We invite you to inform us about current or upcoming events involving the progress of any and all Belizean Artist.  If you do not see an artist that you know on this site, we hope that you will be generous by relating to them the concept of the website and request their involvement on a consistent basis.  You can contact us at during the upcoming 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum at Cal State Los Angeles.

End of Program - End of Program - End of Program - End of Program

These are some of the topics discussed during the 5th Annual Garifuna Community Forum

"Garifuna History and Culture from a Woman's Perspective"

by Anita Martinez, MA

A Glimpse of Garifuna Oral History

Folktales are an important part of the link between grandparents and grandchildren. It was especially so in Garifuna communities before the arrival of electricity and the accompanying accessories of the radio and television. I remember the older folk in my household telling stories of events in faraway Guatemala and Honduras.

The following story was told me by Mrs. Felicita Francisco in Dangriga, Belize in the early part of 1997. She had heard it from her grandmother, who had heard it from her own grandmother some 150 years ago. The first story teller was Gulisi, who claimed to have been born in St. Vincent to Chief Joseph Chatoyer and came to Honduras as one of the exiles. I will recount excerpts of the story in the first person as if Gulisi herself is speaking. To do this I have taken some editorial liberties but remain faithful to the gist of the original narrative.  “The first place in this country where we arrived was a short distance away on the bay north of Dangriga, which is now called Scotchman. Having been on the rough seas for some days crossing from Puerto Cortez, Honduras in our small sailing dory, my twelve sons and I were very tired. All we wanted was some food and shelter. 

However, on arriving at the beach we witnessed a frightening incident. Some pirates were burying their loot and in the ensuing scuffle they killed one of their own men and buried him beside the loot. I got very scared and prayed that they would not do anything to us. I immediately ordered the boys to set sail and proceed further south. One stopped a short distance by the river Dangriga, that gave potable water, but the rest of us continued along the coast until we reached Commerce Bight.  “I decided that we should settle permanently at Commerce Bight. After some years the boys separated, some going further south where they settled communities at Riversdale, San Vicente (called after our former home island in the Caribbean), Punta Negra, Punta Icacos, and others. Together with a few of the boys, who subsequently got married and started their families, I remained at Commerce Bight taking care of my grandchildren and great grandchildren. “One of these grandchildren was Amahuni. She was a rather unfortunate child and I became very much attached to her. Her mother, my daughter-in-law from my son Marugufino, had died when she was a baby and I became the only mother she knew.

However, there was a white man, named Galin Guzman, the owner of all the land around Commerce Bight, who took a liking to little Amahuni. He offered to adopt her. At first I agreed but afterwards regretted my decision. I cried living tears and remained by his gate for days demanding that he gave her back to me until he relented. Working with Galin were black Creole people, who were not like us with our own language and culture but were similar to the black slaves that I had known in St. Vincent. “I used to tell Amahuni and all the grandchildren stories about our life in St. Vincent and how we arrived in Central America. Having experienced the massacre of our people in St. Vincent and the miraculous way how we survived the surrender, the diseases, the inhuman conditions, and the long period in the belly of men o’ war on the way to Roatan, I wanted the little ones to know the very strong mettle of their forefathers and to be proud of them. I also wanted them to know that I was among the first Garifuna to bring my family and settle in this country.  “Now let me take you back to Honduras and my experiences there leading to my escape across the gulf to this country. I arrived at Roatan at the age of 24. 

There I met a man whose surname was Lambey and got married to him. Together we raised our thirteen sons. Life was not easy for our people in Honduras. The Spaniards had a great distrust of us, although we tried to be nice to them. For some reason they suspected us to be spies. Under this spurious charge, they arrested me and were going to shoot me when a senior officer came by and intervened. It turned out that he was one that my sons and I had cared for after his fellow soldiers had left him for dead at the beach near our house.

On being set free, I immediately rounded up my boys to leave that country forthwith and escaped to Belize. The crossing was so dangerous in our sailing dory with the heavy ocean swells that one of my sons was washed away and we could not rescue him. “Running away from danger would seem to be my destiny in life. It first started in St. Vincent where we had fought back the British who wanted to take away our land.

It was especially dangerous for my family because my father Joseph Chatoyer was the leader of our people in war. In the battle he was killed along with my brother and several other relatives. It was the British who eventually loaded the survivors into men o’ war and set sail this way. They stopped on an island that was bare and threatened to dump us there. However, our men responded that they would destroy the ships and nobody would escape from the dreadful place. The British agreed to continue the journey but they were still cruel to us during the crossing.  "The war was a devastation on our way of life. Before then we had been fairly self-sufficient going fishing and trading and growing our own food. We planted cotton from which we made thread. We used the guruguru tree bark which we scraped to make cloth to cover our loins. We sold our produce for cash. One of the coins, which we called chungua, got lost in my belongings and ended up with me here in Belize. “We also had our own way of relating with our own people. They were in all six tribes which lived in different parts of the island. There were the Awawaruguna, Oreyuna, Masiragana, Sawaina, Habaruguna, and Arawaga. Each tribe had its own unique characteristics and there were distinct rules of marriage among them. But all of these practices we lost, as we lost even our land, homes, and dories. In the end we arrived at Roatan a homeless and landless people.”


===================== ^ ===================== ^ ==============



On June 12, 1963, at the age of 37, a Great Man, a prominent Black leader paid the ultimate price for our freedom Medgar Willy Evers in whose symbolic shadow we stand here today. Because that high price he paid then, we are able today to enjoy the greatness of this University, built in his honor.

I will like to strongly demand our youth, that your presence in this institution today, should not be only for today. It is urgent that all and each one us, be a permanent element, permanent friend, a permanent son and daughter of this University, so we can strive all together towards a better and brighter tomorrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Good afternoon.

The Paramount Garifuna, chief, Joseph Satuyer, was killed in Saint Vincent on March 14, 1.795.
On July 15th 1796, the British discussed the appropriation of the Belliceaux Island to confined the Garinagu people until decided otherwise. The final order was issued to remove, to vanish the Garinagu from Saint Vincent, our Mother Land.

On Sunday march 11 of 1797, we were expelled from our mother land to an unknown journey, which would take us to Roatan Island off the coast of Honduras, which was then Spanish colony. We arrived to Roatan on April 12, 1797, with approximately 2.026 survivors. It may never be known, how many Garinagu perished in that journey. But thanks to that ACT OF TERROR OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE, and despite all the barrier and hardship we had to face all over, we the Garinagu ,were able to make it and to gather here today Garinagu from different contries residing in different cities of USA. 211 years later, the Garinagu in Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala can still say to each other in the language of our fore fathers, in the language of Joseph Satuyer: BUITY BINAFUIN NITU, NOUFURI, NAGUTU, NARUGUTY, AIN. VURINA.


211 years later, the life of the Garinagu people still crippled by the chain of institutionalized segregation and racial discrimination in our various contries.

On May 17,1797,the Spanish authorities accepted our request to be admitted to the main land, in Honduras' coast, and when we arrived to Trujillo, the Garinagu founded the two earliest communities in main land :Rio Negro,{Garivalu} and Cristales,{Cristalu}.

On September 15th, 1821, the five Spanish colonies: Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in Central America proclaimed their independence from Spain. The Declaration of Independence, in its Article 4th granted full citizenship to those of AFRICAN origin {GARINAGU] .However, today 211 years after such proclamation, the governments of the Central American countries, specially the Honduran found their ways to distort the legal system to justify the injustice, the oppression and denials of the basic human rights of those with darder skin than theirs.

Though the Constitution of the republic of Honduras says literally that: the government guarantees the right of every child to the basic education and health services and that the Government will promote employment for those, whom have children under their care. We the Garinagu ought to work as twice as much than the so called latino/hispano,to be able to make it to the educational and health systems ;even with the same level of education and in many instances, better, we are denied positions in both ,public and private sectors; the schools and clinics physical structures are depressing. But despite of all the negativity, we are great survivors; we are here.

A Few years after the proclamation of the independence, the new republics formed the Central American Federation, which was further dissolved, due to animosity among the members. Honduras became a separate republic in 1838. Noted, that Garinagu backed up the president of Central American Federation, the General Francisco Morazan,who was executed by the government headed by the land owners TERRATENIENTES, on September 15th of 1842, in San Jose, Costa Rica. The most prominent Garifuna soldier in that journey was Juan Francisco Bulnes, aka "Walumugu".

Brothers and sisters, today, 211 years after our banishment from our mother land, there is no time for lamentation, for tears, to speak ill. As human beings, parents and citizens of the various individual countries in which we were born. We have rights and responsibilities because there is also encouraging developments, in which we must play our duties, with dignity, commitment, and responsibility.

Do not ever forget that in order to be a good citizen we all have moral and legal obligations towards our individual family, the local community, our villages, and the nations in which we were born, and the country in which we reside, and to the humanity as a whole. We should never use the color of our skin to beg nor to bend our faces, nor to knell down to any body, nor to let any one look at us as a second class citizen. As tax payers, we must obey the law and utilize the legal system to exercise our human rights with dignity and responsibility, even when we ought to risk our own lives. As the Rev M.L.King ones said: "the one who has nothing to die for, does-not deserve to live."

Brothers and sisters, as Garinagu, we must 1) Be aware that we as parents are the role model for our children. 2) We must develop a positive self image, based on self-respect, education and cultural heritage, so our children could feel proud of their heritage. 3) We must have a constructive/positive involvement in community activities. 4) We must utilize our human potentialities to demonstrate that we can be Excellent Garinagu, Excellent Citizens and Excellent Professionals whatever the discipline we are involved in. With this hope I came to you today, ladies and gentlemen, hoping that this GARIFUNA FORUM will turn in a CALL FOR ACTION, raise up together to strength our UNITY, FAITH, and TRUST, in these special days of challenge, to make our communities a better place to live. We must carry the light of human spirit to shine brighter against the shadow of political oppression and or economic nature.

Deprivation and the persistent land holding system, which leaves a big gap between the rich and poor in each one of our communities and countries.

Thank you.

Brooklyn, N.Y. May 31, 2008.    MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE Melecio R. Gonzalez.
(323) 299-9459 (323) 369-1174.

Monday, June 2, 2008

From:         Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc.

                    To:  Garifuna Community of New York

Re: 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 08 

GAHFU, INC. would like to thank the Garifuna community of New York and MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE for having given us their unconditional support to make the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 08 possible. GAHFU, Inc. agradece a la comunidad GARIFUNA De Nueva York por su apoyo y  participacion en el 4to Foro Anual Comutario Garifuna NY 08. Uncordial saludo y agradecimiento a (many thanks to):  Alfonso Cayetano & Professor Nunez, James Lovell and the Afrigarifuna Youth Ensemble. Mike Nunez & Hechun Garinagu. Luz Soliz & Hamalali Wagucha, Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers, Jack Arzu, Georgette Lambey, Q, Tunku Dread, Bootsy Rankin', Guwie, Mr. Melecio Gonzalez, Dr. Michael Stone, Alfonso & Teddy from  St. Vincent, Willyman & Juventud Garifuna Band, Isha Sumner, Carol Suazo, Jerry Castro, Martin Bermudez & Irene Aranda, Jordao Gonzalez & Dj Ervin Arzu, Ruben Reyes, Belizean Garifuna Association of Brooklyn, Flavio Alvarez, Luis Cayetano, Julio Gregorio , Dj Rob, Monico Productions and Sergio Flores and the entire Garifuna community of New York. Without your help, the forum would not have been as exciting and informative as it was.      GAHFU, Inc. believes in the ideal that a community that works together, stays together. Aban Isieni.  Sin su ayuda este foro no hubiese estado tan exitoso e informativo como lo fue.  GAHFU, Inc. cree en el dicho que dice que “pueblo unido, jamas sera vencido”.  

Cheryl L. Noralez, President & Founder

Juventud Garifuna Band, New York at the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 08 Medgar Evers College, City University of New York. - Click on the picture to see the photoalbum - Haga un click para ver el album de fotos.


Hi Ms Noralez! Here is a feedback from someone who attended the Forum.  James Lovell

We attended the forum today in Brooklyn. It was excellent!   I have never seen Garifuna people from various countries congregate in such harmony. There was a lot of information concerning our history and current struggles.  In the afternoon, there was entertainment.  I must say that we have a lot of talented people, both young and old.  My grandsons learned some songs from James Lovell and needless to say that I was a proud grandma listening to them. They are now also playing the Garifuna drums. They are professional drummers of the African drums and it was very easy from them to learn our own beats.

The only problem was that the space was rented to another group for 4 PM so we were kicked out and quite a few entertainers did not perform.  What a disappointment!  All in all, it was a pleasant gathering and they did announce that the party will continue in the Bronx.


Que bueno que estemos siempre llevando a cabo eventos como este y que los apoyemos. Desde Honduras les envio muchos saludos y deseos de exito para que todo salga excelente y sigamos adelante. Asi es como se hacen las cosas, solo haciendo aprenderemos y mejoraremos cada
dia mas.

Que Satuye y Barauda nos iluminen siempre y nos inspiren a continuar nuestra lucha por el desarrollo de nuestro pueblo Garifuna y Afrohondureño.

¡¡¡¡¡Adelante!!!! Con el cariño y respeto de siempre.

Karen Vargas


Señores de GAHFU, Inc.:

Un abrazo fraterno desde tierras catrachas, mis felicitaciones por el evento he estado dandole seguimiento por internet.


Dr. Luther Castillo Harry - Ciriboya, Honduras


Greetings Gahfu:

We, Libaya Baba, would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to perform at the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum in N.Y.  We really had a blast.  I can only imagine the time and energy it took to coordinate such an event.  Nuff Respect to Gahfu and the whole crew involved.   You'll always have our support!  ISIENI.

Jeff Antonio - Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers


Hi Rony & Cheryl

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be part of the 4th Annual Garifuna Forum. The opportunity to interact with brilliant people, learn about what you do, and how you do it, it is something that I know will help me in my personal and professional activities.
I think that the information shared during the event was very much helpful, and in my opinion, is a valuable key to look forward to the future and be better prepared to mark our success as individual and as community and to get together and become stronger.
In my opinion, we can explore a different approach to attract more attention to the cause, and make the next forum more concurred.  As far as the New York area, we can use the interpersonal approach to get to those who do not have access to a computer to get information.  We can also use local network to get the word out, such as community tv programs, as well as garitv.com, just to mention some, so the event could be promoted. 
Remember Rony & Cheryl, we can succeed as individuals, but together, as joint community force, we can make history.  In my opinion, our children will be proud to learn what is being done for them to enjoy.  Of curse we made it!  You go guys!

Carol Suazo - New York (Co-host of the forum)


Dear Cheryl:
It was such a great experience to have been part of the 4Th Annual Garifuna Community Forum.
In my opinion, I say that this is the most important event that takes place in New York for the Garifuna Community.   The forum was educational as well as entertaining for young and old alike. I was very pleased to see families together and many kids that need to know about the culture, the music, the language and it was all  there plus.

I would have loved to see more Garifunas and people in general coming together just because there are so many of us living in this city. I declare that next year will be even more amazing and that Garifunas from all over will be there representing the strong and powerful force of the Garifuna people.

Thank you Cheryl and Rony for having me and I want you both to know that you can count on me for next year.

Isha Sumner


Dear Cheryl and Rony
It was obvious there was a presence from the ancestors during the forum. I want to thank you for allowing me be part of a historic event. It was 17 years ago the First Garifuna Summit was held at Medgar Evers and to return with such poise was remarkable. 
From the beginning to the end, the forum was what it intended to be: a further discussion about our community.  Interestingly, for two years in a row the forum has headlined of our national  and international community. 
Love you guys and see you in the Fall. 
Jerry Castro



Wednesday, June 3rd, 2008

To: Alfonso Cayetano and Professor Esther Nunez

From: Rony Figueroa

Re: Thank You Letter

First of all, I would like to thank you for your dedication to GAHFU's cause and especially for having helped us to take the 4Th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 08 to new heights.

When I first saw the auditorium at Medgar Evers College, I felt proud of the type of venue that the Garifuna community was getting to be the location of the forum. The college is strategically located in one of the nicest neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The auditorium's seating arrangements as well as the large stage were of VIP caliber.

Mr. Cayetano and Professor Nunez, I must say that you really worked hard and diligently to make the annual garifuna forum an event to remember.  From the acquisition of the venue to the securing of the right equipment to be used during the forum, you both were very instrumental.  Then, the promotion and the advertisement of the forum was another leg of this project which made the difference.  The forum was a success because of your commitment to make it happen and I truly appreciate it.

After the forum was over, I had numerous people approached me to let me know how excited they were about what they had just witnessed.  People came right and left to offer their help to make the next forum even more successful.  But the most important factor of the event was that Garinagu from all over came to be part of "A Garifuna Cultural Exchange Experience".  I saw people coming from Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, New Jersey, Boston, Connecticut and Texas as well as people from St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Panama, Cuba, Trinidad & Tobago; Caucasian and African-Americans were also present.

In conclusion, I believe that Garinagu have always worked in communal ways and that this is no exception.  When Garinagu work together hand in hand, they are able to achieve great things, the forum was a perfect example of working united to attain a collective goal.  I strongly think that both participants and the people who attended the forum, felt connected to one another and that we are indeed "One People One Culture".

Yours truly;

Rony Figueroa, VP & Co-Founder

FOREWORD: "Culture is learned, culture is not transmitted genetically.  Rather, it is acquired through the process of learning or interacting with one's cultural environment." - Gary Ferraro.

Make your donation for the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008. Your donations are tax deductible!  Haga su donacion para ayudar llevar a cabo el 4o. Foro Anual Comunitario Garifuna NY 2008.  Recuerde que sus donaciones son deducibles de sus impuestos!

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                         MEDGAR EVERS COLLEGE, BROOKLYN, NY

                       SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2008 9:00 AM TO 6:00 PM

                                TENTATIVE GENERAL PROGRAM

Opening Remarks by:


Cheryl L. Noralez is an activist and promoter of the Garifuna culture.  She is also well-known for her passionate writings about her culture.  She conceived the idea of GAHFU when she realized that there was a need in the community for a non-profit organization that could bring together the Garifuna community to better represent the people and the culture.  Cheryl's dream has always been to open a Garifuna Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California.  She believes that once Garinagu have their own Cultural Center, more can be accomplished like for example:  have a Dabuyaba where Garinagu can practice their spirituality, it can be used as a school and/or learning center and it could serve as a museum.



Rony Figueroa has produced numerous albums and promoted several events. Some of the work has been with Madness and Glen Sampson, Garifuna Star Band, Sopps Sanchez, Isanigu Band, Inebesey Band, Macako, Lalu Lino, Lo Mejor de la Punta Chapina (DVD). He also worked with Hermandad Livingstena and Garifuna for Progress Organization which were responsible for bringing Paula Castillo to Los Angeles along with Isanigu Band, Garifuna Star Band and Chico Ramos together for the first time. DJ Labuga partnered with Static Productions to bring for the first time to Los Angeles and the U.S. the very popular Punta Rebels Band from Belize. He has a large collection of Garifuna music that dates back to the early days of recordings produced on audio cassettes, vinyls and compact discs now. In October 2005, The Guatemalan General Consulate in Los Angeles gave Rony Figueroa a recognition award for his hard work and dedication to the Guatemalan Artists Circle in The United States. And in 2006, Garinagu Empowerment Movement gave Rony The Garifuna Achievement Award as an outstanding Entrepreneur & Activist in the Garifuna community in Los Angeles, CA.



Isha will be co-hosting the Garifuna Community Forum.  She is a very talented actress and has appeared in television shows like Law and Order, VH1 On Air Promo, Centro America Show.  And in films like Essence Lost, Close Your Eyes, Exchanged Student and Affinity.  She has also done some theater: Happy Hour Show, The Marital Bliss of Francis and Maxine, Theater Workshop, just to name a few.  Isha Sumner will also be performing a special skit during the forum at Medgar Evers College. 

Jerry will be co-hosting the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008

Jerry Castro is currently the Executive Direcotor of the Garifuna Coalition USA, a non-profit advocacy organization working in organizing the improvement of the Garifuna Communityin the Bronx NY and throughout the City Of New York. 
Before joining the Garifuna Coalition, Mr. Castro worked for the New York State Assembly as a
Legislative Liaison for the 79th Assembly District. In addition, Mr. Castro has also worked as a
Community organizer in the low income neighborhoods of the Bronx and Washington, DC. Furthermore, He worked as the Director of Community Relations for the office of the New York State Attorney General Harlem Regional Office, which oversees the upper
Manhattan and Bronx Counties. 
As an active community advocate, Mr. Castro was recently appointed by the New York City Department of Community Development Neighborhood Advisory Board 3 Vice Chair. His functions consist of ensuring the delivery and allocations of federal funds to community organizations to provide services to the community. He has also served on Bronx Planning Board 2 which oversees the Hunts point and Longwood section of the Bronx. 
Mr. Castro has also been a consistent supporter of community resident inclusion and participation in Civic Participation. As an elected Student Body Council President of Touro College, Mr. Castro’s administration worked in registering students to vote and volunteering at local campaigns. In 2000, as a member of the Bronx County Young Democrats, he
helped registered 10,000 new voters in an non-partisan registration drive “10,000 in 2000”. 

Presently Mr. Castro is heading an effort in to rename a street in New York in honor of Garifuna
Paramount Chief Joseph Chatoyer. Moreover, as an executive member of the Garifuna Coalition, he is  working tirelessly to raise $100,000 for the > Garifuna Coalition Advocacy Center in the Bronx, NY.


Professor ESTHER NUNEZ, Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Professor Nuñez teaches at Medgar Evers College and she is a Garifuna woman who fought her way through the system to earn her education and finally obtain her master's degree.

DR. GREEN is a Garifuna professor at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York


Dr. Luther Castillo is a product of Latinamerican School of Medicine which was established in 1999 and operated by the Cuban government, ELAM has been described as possibly being the largest medical school in the world by enrollment with approx. 10,000 or 12,000 students from 27 or 29 countries reported as enrolled in 2006/early 2007. All those enrolled are international students from outside Cuba and mainly come from Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Africa. The school also accepts students from the United States - 91 were reportedly enrolled as of January 2007.  Dr. Castillo is presently running a small community hospital built by him through donations and medicine donated by concerned people around the world.  He will be doing a presentation regarding the need for more donation to continue to build the other part of the hospital complex in the village of Ciriboya in Honduras.


Mr. Melecio Gonzalez is a Social Worker in the Los Angeles County.  He is a dedicated activist in the Garifuna community and he is an associate of GAHFU's Garifuna Language & Cultural School in Los Angeles, CA.  Mr. Gonzalez travels frequently to his native Honduras and makes special trips to various Garifuna villages there to give away teaching materials and school supplies to young and old.  Melecio has written several documents regarding Garifuna history as it happened in Honduras. He has also published several articles in relationship to the establishment of Garinagu in several coastal Honduran towns.


Michael Stone is a scholar of the Garifuna.  Michael Stone is executive director of Princeton University’s Program in Latin American Studies. A cultural anthropologist (PhD, University of Texas at Austin; MA, Latin American Studies, Stanford University), he has worked or consulted for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Program, the European Community, the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife Programs & Cultural Studies, the Institute of Texan Cultures-University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas Folklife Resources.  He previously taught at Universität Konstanz (Germany).  His research focuses on the indigenous musics of the Caribbean coast of Central America; recent essays include “Garifuna Song, Groove Locale & World-Music Mediation (in Globaliziation, Cultural Identities & Media Representation, SUNY Press, 2006) and “Cultural Policy, Local Creativity & the Globalization of Culture in Belize” (in Taking Stock: The First 25 Years of Belizean Independence, Cubola, 2007)


Greg was recently invited to do a presentation of his oil paintings at the Georgia State University's Rialto Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was a member of a panel discussion featuring Dr. Joe Palacio, Michael Stone, Andrea Leeland focusing on the life of the late Andy Palacio.  Greg is also a drummer for Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers in Los Angeles, California. 



Willyman heads one of the next generation's of Garifuna musicians and entertainers, The Garifuna Youth Band - Juventud Garifuna Band out of New York.  This talented musicians deliver a jolt of fast-paced punta music with a twist of punta/hip-hop and the like.  Be ready to enjoy the energizing sound of Juventud Garifuna Band the future of Garifuna music at its best.


Seat still and be ready to witness one of James Lovell's best perfomances.  James Lovell is bringing us his most original and most brilliant artists singing, performing and displaying the best of the Garifuna music.  This man is no joke, this man is as serious as bringing the Garifuna culture to the White House and Buckingham Palace. 


Peter Arzu is a native of Dangriga, Belize.  He was born with music in his blood.  Jack has the gift of music and he shows it when he beats the drums and sings the music of his ancestors.  He has performed along with Guwie Possey Band in Los Angeles, California.  "My Journey" is the title of his new album which was released in the month of April 2008.  He will be performing at the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008.





Bootsy Rankin stepped cautiously into the world of music with the "Rayders",
a local band operating in the L A area in the early 80's with the leader Bill
Cayetano. Rankin made the most of that opportunity playing the drums and
adding backing vocals. Then Dangriga Children, directed by Charles Baltazar
came along taking LA by storm. Bootsy, now  their new drummer, had another
opportunity to refine his drumming skills and hone his vocal talents as well.
As Dangriga's Children faded from the scene, Bootsy continued on to form
his own group; the award winning Punta Rock Band, "The Mighty Wegeah".
Bootsy's first  album"Punta Baby", produced by Granville Cayetano of Wild
Adventure in Long Beach, CA was a quality success having sold over 3000
copies in the US


Libaya Baba meaning “grandchildren of the sacred wise elder”, was developed after realizing that their was a need for more cultural music. It seems that the original garifuna music is being forgotten or neglected for the more instrumental Punta Rock. In so doing, we’re also honoring our traditional music players, singers, dancers and drummers. Our primary goal is to preserve our cultural music, keeping it in its most original form.  The group consist of five members; Jeff Bernardez (lead singer and maracas), Kelsie Bernardez (base drum and response singer), Dayton “Bone”  Bernardez (lead drums or primero), Ulmar “G.P. Palacio, (Segundo player) and Dalton “Shaka” Higinio (Percussion and response singer).  Some of our major events includes the first and second annual Garifuna fest in Los Angeles, the Watts Festival, Cirque De Solel, Los Angeles Music Center, Annual African Market Place (Los Angeles Coliseum) and L. A. Galaxy half time show (Rose Bowl Pasadena) just to name a few. However, we remain loyal to our community by performing at ancestral offerings (Shugu), wakes, weddings, birthdays or wherever traditional Garifuna music is required.                       


Georgette Lambey is one of LA's most respected cultural performer.  She comes from a family of deep-rooted traditions.  She is a must see performer.  Georgette currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, 


Hechu Garinagu has a long standing tradition of cultural performances.  They have one of the largest ensembles in the East Coast.  They are one of the top Garifuna cultural groups in New York with original Honduran-Garinagu.


Guwie Possey Band takes all of the honors in Los Angeles.  Guwie has recorded 4 albums all of which have a poweful message of survival and Garifuna identity.  Guwie will be traveling by himself during the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 08.  He will be performing right next to LA's number one Cultural Drummer Band Libaya Baba.  Guwie has recorded great songs like Che, Biscuit, the self-titled Guwie, Backatown, Garifunaduou and other very popular tunes among Dangrigana Garinagu.


DJ Ervin Arzu started his musical career as a dj in 1979.  ERVIN ARZU was born June 15 in Brooklyn, NY.  His parents are Fermin Arzu and Antonio Pitillo (R.I.P) from Livingston, Izabal (LABUGA) Guatemala Central America.  Ervin is proud to speak, write and sing in all 3 languages; Garifuna, Spanish and English.  Ervin learned Garifuna from his mother. He will be performing at the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008.


The legendary Luz Soliz's perfomance troupe is back into action and this time they come more than ready to display the vibrant and colorful Garifuna culture of Honduras in New York.


Tormenta Band has one of the best talented Garifuna musicians in the industry.  Songwriters and singers like Cabo make out Tormenta Band one of the most desirable band to listen to due to his long career as a vocalist member of New Yorks finest bands "Grupo H".  Linky Zapata, an original Garifuna Kids band member is not only a producer but a well-rounded musician who brings not only maturity but flavor and the Garifuna tradition to the music.  Tormenta Band is one of the bands to watch for 2008 and 2009!  They will be performing at the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008 at Medgar Evers College, CUNY. 


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GAHFU, INC & MONICO PRODUCCIONES are proud to announce the release of its DVD avalailable for a small donation of $15.oo.  3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 07 with live performances by Jancunu World, Hechun Garinagu, Anthony Castillo, James Lovell's Children's Group, Rhodee Castillo, J. King, Cuellar, Gadu Nuñez, Noly Palacios, Paula Castillo, etc.In the West Coast contact GAHFU, Inc. at(323) 898-6841 or e-mail us at garifunaheritagefoundation@yahoo.com.  In the East Coast contact Monico Producciones (917) 557-8700 or www.monicoproduciones.com .


Monday, April 23, 2007

To: All of those who made the Forum in New York possible

From: Cheryl Noralez

On behalf of GAHFU, Inc., I would like to thank you for being our keynote speaker and for having made the annual garifuna forum a very successful one.  We would like to say thanks in particular to: Mr. Jerry Castro GAHFU’s Liaison, Michael Benjamin for the City Citations to our musicians and Mr. Dennis Carter from IS 219 Beacon Director for having provided us with the Charles R. Drew Educational Center Auditorium in the Bronx, New York.  Also, our congratulations go to the wonderful presentation made by Mr. Juan Carlos Sanchez on Garifuna Spirituality.  Mr. Guillermo Alvarez on Substance Abuse, your personal story dealing with alcoholism touched a lot of people.  Dr. Michele Goldwasser from UC San Diego who shared her research in the Garifuna community in Los Angeles and Belize.  Dr. Oliver Greene on his research on the Wanaragua dance a comparison and contrast from Africa to America. Thank you Dr. Greene and we are waiting for the official release of the documentary on DVD. 

To all the performers and entertainers who participated: Hechun Garinagu the best performance in dancing and singing the Garifuna traditional way.  Mundo Wanaragua – Jancunu World for a magnificent performance of the Wanaragua dancers.  To James Lovell and his singing group of children who delighted the audience from beginning to end.  Anthony Castillo & Alvaro Castillo for maintaining the Garifuna culture with lyrics in a reggae-roots style.  Thank you also to Ms. Zoila Blanco for her presentation on Garifuna Unity.  

To all of our musicians, producers and promoters who took part in this event: Paula Castillo, Sandra Bell, Rhodee Castillo, James Lovell, Dario Bengochea, Chente Avila, Noly Palacios, Gadu Nuñez, J. King, Mike Nuñez and Hechun Garinagu, Guillermo “Cuellar” Alvarez, Garifuna Movement, Martin Bermudez from Labuga.com & DJ Rob. Thank you Jordao for your hospitality.
We also would like to thank the people behind the entire show; Mrs. Joanne Noralez, who supplied the food for the performers and guest speakers.  To Beulah Francisco and Jessica Martinez thank you for having contributed by not only donating the programs which were distributed to the audience, but also coordinating the admission of all those people who attended the event.  And a special thanks to Monico Productions’ Humberto Martinez for his video production.


3rd ANNUAL GARIFUNA COMMUNITY FORUM NY '07 was a success once again thank you!

"HECHUN GARINAGU" 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 07 Click on the picture to see what happened at the forum on Sat. April 14, 2007 in the Bronx, NY! Haga un click en la foto para ver lo que paso en el 3r Foro Anual Comunitario Garifuna NY '07!  Photos courtesy of Labuga.com / Martin Bermudez, Seremein Liri Bungiu!

MUNDO WANARAGUA"  had a standing ovation during their performance at the 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 07 Mundo Wanaragua fue el deleite de la concurrencia durante el 3er Foro Comunitario Garifuna NY '07!


Demographic Information
Charles R. Drew Educational Center Auditorium
Bronx, NY 

It was attended by the people who are concerned about the issues that are in one way or another affecting the garifuna people today.  From all over New York they came.  Garinagu are a few but strong and proud people, some claim that there are approximately 300,000 Garifuna people in the world, I say keep counting because Garifuna are the cameleon if you know what I mean. 

The program started early morning at 9:30 with a few people strolling in.  Channel 12 News staff from the Bronx made its way throughout the hallways of the auditorium.  There came the curious people, trickling in one by one. There came the Garinagu, not Belizeans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans but Garinagu. 
The survey that GAHFU, Inc. passed to all of the people who attended yielded the following information:  The majority of people attending the forum were not only females but also claimed their ethnicity as Garifuna by 42%.   Thirty percent present at the forum were Garifuna males.  Twenty eight percent declined to state their gender.  One particular aspect was that the great majority of people in attendance were over the age of 44 followed by the age group between 35 and 44.  Youth between the ages of 18 to 24 were the third largest segment of the population in attendance.  

The city of Bronx, NY had the most people in attendance at the forum.  Brooklyn was the second city with the most people attending.  There were other curious Garinagu who traveled from as far away as Chicago, Boston, West Virginia and Connecticut.  

Another interesting factor was that the great majority had a high school education followed by those who had a bachelor’s education then a master’s degree.  Many of the people polled in attendance worked in the field of education as in teaching and/or teaching assistants.   The second largest group of people polled indicated that they worked in the construction and in the maintenance field.  Finance, management and sales were the third choice.  Twenty six percent of the people who filled out the survey declined to state their field of work.   

The second largest ethnic group in attendance was the African-American community.  The Caribbean, Black and Latino category ranked number 3 in the survey.  

A number of people who attended stated that they were program directors/program managers or program coordinators followed by business owners/executive directors/chief operating officers.  A significant number of people were teachers, teacher’s assistants and/or college professors.  Nine percent claimed to be in frontline staff and/or administrative field.  Caseworkers in the healthcare arena accounted for a good portion of the people surveyed.  Twenty eight and a half percent of the people surveyed declined to state their job title.  Seventeen and a half percent stated as “Other” as their job title. 

GAHFU, Inc. is now truly concerned with the task of finding out the actual number of garinagu living in the United States.  Can you help us?  How?  How will you identify yourself in the upcoming 2010 Census in America?  You can make our job easy by instead of marking other you write Garifuna!


Dear Friends; I wanted to inform you that the 2007 Garifuna Community Forum was a success with both young and adult attending and participating in what many claimed a "needed community event" for our community here in New York.  Typically I would write to emphasize certain highlights of the event, but for this one the entire event was a highlight. There was a sense of unity in the room as we all became keynote speakers in the Auditorium. The attending public was superb in participating by asking and answering questions. In my times of attending events and meetings, this was the first event I must say where everybody participated. There were no distinction of where we came from, based on the topic of discusion...at the end of the day we were all Garinagu.  I want to send my regards to the local officials who assisted in making this happen: Community Board 3, the Office of State Senator Ruben Diaz, the Office of New York State Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, Gregg Mazzile, Dennis Carter, the Office of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Community Relations and the New York City Department of Education in facilitating Charles R. Drew Educational Facility. In addition, the 42nd Precinct and School Safety in ensuring the safety of everyone.  To all the speakers, panelists and performing artists and groups, there is no word or expression to describe your work and efforts.  To the Punta Rockers who were honored, keep up the good work because if it weren't for your sweat in the basements refining your tunes, most of this would not have happened.  

PETITION UPDATE: More than 100 signatures were collected (during the forum). The office of the local Council member and community board will get the petitions. If there's a development, I would inform you about what's going on. One person who really got my attention for his courage was Mr. Guillermo Alvarez who spoke about his experience with alcohol and how he has gone over the hurdle and speaking to his community about awareness and prevention on the role alcohol plays on an individual and family. This man is an example of change and I take my hat off to him.  Again the event was great from start to end. Both Rony and Cheryl did an excellent job in organizing the event. I am looking forward to next year's event where we can highlight what was done in the Bronx in 2007.  Aba Isieni Jerry Castro.


Play, Jankunu Play: Garifuna Christmas Rituals in Belize”A Film by Oliver N. Greene 

The Garifuna are a Central American people of West African and Native American descent who live along the Caribbean coast of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. They share a common origin, language, system of beliefs, repertoire of dance-song genres, and rituals.  One of their most popular rituals is wanaragua, a three-fold system of masked Christmas processionals commonly called Jankunú (as spelled in Belize).  This ritual is a unique blend of African, European, and Native American (Awarak and Carib) art traditions in which social and cultural identities are expressed through music, dance, and costume.  Dancers affirm their cultural identity while signifying former oppressors as they adorn themselves in colorful regalia to mimic the military and customs of the British.  They perform stylized movements to the accompaniment of drums and social commentary songs composed by men. This film, “Play, Jankunu Play:” Garifuna Christmas Rituals in Belize by ethnomusicologist Oliver Greene, places the viewer within the context of the Garifuna world where music, dance, and art reflect the past to empower the future.  Scenes of life in Dangriga, the largest Garifuna settlement in Belize (formerly British Honduras), depict the physical environment and cultural décor in which the ritual system is explored. Photographs of the Egungun ancestor rituals of the Yoruba of Nigeria and Benin and of English mummers’ plays are included to show possible origins of this New World tradition.  Also included are photographs of related Christmas processionals in the Caribbean, North America, and Africa: specifically, Masquerade in St. Kitts-Nevis, Gombey in Bermuda, Jonkonnu in Jamaica, Junkanoo in the Bahamas, John Kuner (now extinct) in North Carolina, and Fancy Dress in Cape Coast, Ghana. Images showing the differences in costumes and dance styles between the Garifuna of Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala accompany varying interpretations of why such differences may exist.

 Descriptions of warini, Jankunú, and charikanari—the three processional dance styles of the system—are interspersed with interviews by Garifuna singers, drummers, dancers, cultural advocates, and scholars.  Rare footage of wárini, the now extinct Africanized predecessor to Jankunú, is accompanied by interpretations of its significance and explanations of its relationship to Jankunú, the central rite of the three and the dance of mimicry.  Examples of Jankunú drumming and dance styles  demonstrate how drummers rhythmically interpret the unique movements of each dancer.  Transcriptions and translations of song text show the distinct Arawak and Carib based Garifuna language on screen and reveal themes commonly found in the music.  Songs in Belizean creole (an English based language) reveal a possible historical relationship between the Garifuna and the Creoles, the descendents of former enslaved Africans in Belize.  Gender play and role reversal become part of the revelry as Garifuna men mimic European women and Garifuna women, disguised as male Jankunú dancers, join in.  The antics and songs of charikanari, a favorite among youth and children, are also explored. This processional typically features stock characters such as Two-Foot Cow and Devil, accompanied by young men and boys dressed as women.  The film concludes by examining elements of preservation and identity: the role of children in wanaragua, the maintenance of the indigenous language, and the unique manner in which sad or sorrowful social-commentary song themes are performed with celebratory, festive drumming and dance.  Bonus features include an overview of the history of the Garifuna, slideshows of scenes of Dangriga and paintings by well-known Garifuna artists, and extended excerpts of the musical examples presented in the documentary.


                                    GARIFUNA MUSICIANS

                                       By Clifford J. Palacio

 The Garifuna musicians deserve our respect and gratitude for the tremendous tireless work that they have done. They are true pioneers whose music resonates through the ages. They reach out and share with the world their compositions as the hearts of many are touched. For over two decades our musicians have toiled quietly promoting, nurturing and fostering the evolution of our unique heritage. Every year we welcome a litany of new Garifuna stimulating lyrics and lilting tunes. Every genre of the music has been given the attention it truly deserves. Today we find and enjoy at home the following types of songs: paranda, punta, gunjéi, hüngün-hüngü, chumba, wanaragua, abeimahani, arumahani, chárikanari, etc. 

 Hymns in Garifuna have also received some attention. Young composers have come up with a modern, new approach to add to the stock of timeless hymns already available. They have injected new life into the Garifuna hymns. The quality of our prayers and worship is heightened as we collectively praise “Suntigabafu” in the language of Paramount Chief of Garinagu, Satuye.  

 The songs we all listen to stimulate our imagination and give us a feeling of belonging and ownership. They constantly remind us of the struggles, lifestyle and camaraderie enjoyed by our forebears on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The stories underlying the songs bring alive the quality of human interaction that existed. They tell parts of our own unique history. These heroes and heroines spent countless hours and valuable time perfecting their skills, planning and devising ways of giving the public the best music in Garifuna. We recognize the effort, dedication, creativity, patience and willingness of the musicians to take risks. This special group of leaders, pioneers and innovators.


Quality of recording and production compared to other successful artists. Many times it is difficult to understand the words of a new Garifuna song. Musicians should not accept inferior recording from an engineer. Be in control of the “quality” of the finished product.Send a meaningful message to the public in each songPossess accurate knowledge of your own history, culture, tradition Have knowledge of the struggles of Garifuna in Yurumein.Use effective marketing techniques and strategyAdapt consistency of style, patterns established by youEstablish a realistic, practical networking among Garifuna artistsEducate oneself in music – learn to read and interpret musical notes. Have voice training (lessons are available on Saturdays)Set a high standard for yourself.

Yardsticks to Use

a)        Establish self-confidence in Garifunaduaü

b)        Improve your diction in English and Garifuna

c)        Have a good command of the Garifuna Language – read and write it well (with confidence).

d)        Strive to increase you vocabulary in Garifuna daily

e)        Adapt an analytic approach to the Garifuna language.

f)         Control your choice of words. Avoid the use of meaningless phases, such as “degeba”,   “ñugulebana”. Try to avoid vulgar expressions.

g)        Avoid degrading women in your composition

h)        Before releasing an album it would be good to have someone knowledgeable to listen to the album and make recommendations.

i)          Have a sound knowledge of your craft

j)         Know the story behind every song handed down from generation to generation before you reproduce it.

k)       Be informed about everything Garifuna – study and learn the structure of the Garifuna Language. It is a fascinating study.

l)          Remember we all came together to Roatan, Honduras as prisoners of war on the same British Warship. Every Garifuna in Belize came from Honduras. Your “family tree” can reveal that indisputable fact to you. 


There are certain factors that, I believe, impact the study of history. While studying Garifuna history we should consider the following:

a)      Geography – regional, political, economic and scientific.
b)      Politics – type of government
c)      Religion – beliefs, forms of worship, practices, tenets
d)      Education – curriculum -  technical, academic, classical, militaristic, art
e)      Economics – distribution of wealth, trade and commerce, agriculture, inventions, industries, imports and exports
f)        Social life  -  entertainment, fashion, tradition, custom, recreation, sports 

The African who supposedly came long before Columbus should have left their footprints in the sands of time. Those who arrived in St. Vincent in 1635 certainly left the above mentioned “factors” (evidence) for us to study and to authenticate their presence. (Controversial?). 

How long did our ancestors remain on the island of St. Vincent before they were banished? Our musicians need to know the life-changing events that took place in St. Vincent between 1635 and 1797. They need to know and understand the story of Balliceaux in relation to Garifuna history.  For comparison they also need to know the story of the “Settlement of Wallace in the Bay of Honduras” between 1638 and 1798.


Garifuna: Espiritu Vivo De Unidad

Hablar del garifuna o del Negro es hablar de África desde San Vicente “Yurumein” hacia Centro America: Honduras, Nicaragua, Belice y Guatemala.  Con mucho orgullo anunciamos la gran alegria por el arribo de nuestro pueblo a estas costas con ayuda de Dios.  Cargados con sus costumbres y tradiciones en especial la espiritual que fue la que les brindo la luz en el camino hacia la gloria para ser un pueblo libre. “Los elegidos” por nuestros ancestros son los mejor conocidos como Buyei, Elebu, Gayusa acompañados por la sisira y el garaun. El solidarisarnos con “Los Elegidos” por nuestros ancestros ha continuar con la gran mision de resguardar al pueblo garifuna de vicisitudes merece mucha mas atencion.

La disfuncion regida durante tiempos atras hacia la comunidad por lideres espirituales o mediums debido a su conducta colocando en duda los poderes de los abuelos, llama a reflexion poner en practica el gran desarrollo humanistico que siempre nos han inculcado. El garifuna carese de un centro de estudio espiritual. Seria de gran ayuda para la comunidad tener este lugar el cual garantizaria el buen desarrollo intelectual del Ebu o Buyei en su vida social, politica, cultural y religiosa.Buscando Alternativas

El pueblo Garifuna en su historia ha demostrado ser un pueblo solidario.  Sin embargo, exigir y juzgar a nuestros lideres espirituales por actitudes a las cuales no se les ha preparado sin darles una sola opcion de superar sus conocimientos de como resolver casos sin recurrir a extremos dudosos nos deja muy lejos de las enseñanzas de nuestros ancestros. Muchos “Elegidos” no logran captar realmente el mensaje enviado por los abuelos.  Al nosotros contar con un centro de asesoria Espiritual Garifuna para el desarrollo de “Los Elegidos”, una escuela de Espiritualidad Garifuna, seria un lindo y hermoso regalo a nuestra juventud quienes son el futuro del mañana.   

Dios y nuestros ancestros nos proveen del don de percibir y recibir su mensaje por medio de angeles de luz.  Ver el futuro de la comunidad Garifuna, esta a la mano.  Dejarnos guiar por un llamado de amor hacia todo lo creado por El, nos hara mas sabios.  Solamente apoyando y reconociendo a “Lideres Garifunas”, recibiremos mas bendicion y sin lugar a dudas  todos reaccionaran y se fortaleceran de sus conocimentos y asi tomaran con gran responsabilidad su mision con nuestro pueblo.

Desde Africa los tambores, canticos, bailes y rezos, se han utilizado para proteger, agradacer, dar, recibir y amar al projimo.   Nuestras ceremonias sagradas son nuestra herencia por la unidad y fe del pueblo para el pueblo.

Antes de la llegada de los evangelizadores Cristianos a las reconditas tierras Africanas, nuestros Abuelos ya de rodillas veneraban y glorificaban a Dios con canto y comida.  Asi es como logran llegar a San Vicente estos ritos sagrados pudiendo asi ahora vivir y sentir el ideal de la unidad por medio del Chugu y del Dugu.  Estas ceremonias son las que reunen ha familiares y amigos en un solo camino en el sentido de unidad y sagrada familia de Dios.

Alternativas Que detienen al Pueblo Garifuna y Su Espiritualidad: Debemos de seguir esta mision y trabajar por nuestra comunidad?

Hermanos velemos por nuestros pueblo como lo han hecho y siguen haciendo nuestros ancestros.  Permanezcamos unidos en solo espiritu de Dios!

Eduquémonos y aprendamos a vivir en armonia.  Vayamos de la mano con las diversidades como una sola carne.  Conoscamos nuestra vocacion.  El pueblo Garifuna clama amor por medio de sus tambores, maracas y el caracol.  Estos instrumentos musicales religiosos son su baston de poder magico y el espiritu vivo que derrama llamas de sabiduria cayendo como mana en el desierto y un manantial en el corazon abierto a la gloria de Dios.  En honra a los espiritus de nuestros ancestros, Dios les bendiga!  Garifuna, un solo pueblo Yurumen!

Juan Carlos Sanchez, Espiritualidad Garifuna, ounagulei



By Michele Goldwasser

Please let me first thank the many people who have helped me learn about the Garifuna culture -- Rony and Cheryl for their magnificent work with GAHFU, Martha Martinez and the Garifuna Cultural Group in Los Angeles, Flavio “Paps” Alvarez and the Wanaragua dancers in Los Angeles, Jessie Castillo, and the many others who continue to be my Garifuna teachers of their culture.

In this talk I discussed my work with the Garifuna community in Los Angeles in relation to language and cultural revitalization or retrieval programs in general.  I tried to place Garifuna efforts at revitalizing their language and culture in relation to what has worked in similar programs elsewhere.  I concentrated on three important areas: history, language, and cultural traditions.

History: When I teach students about histories, I always speak in the plural.  No single “History” exists.  Rather, histories involve multiple perspectives, and we need to give voice to these multiple perspectives.  Colonial documents, for example, relate colonial perspectives.  I suggest this accounts for the shipwreck version of Garifuna history.  A similar explanation exists in colonial documents for the origins of Miskitu culture.  Rather than stating “facts,” this suggests the shipwreck version serves a symbolic function for colonialists.  It makes the emergence of Garifuna culture in St. Vincent a matter beyond colonial control.  A shipwreck explanation is a matter of “God’s will” or nature.  It denies Garifuna strength, agency and resourcefulness.  Other colonial documents record numerous African escapes and Carib raids, and perhaps better account for the growing population of Garifuna on the island.  Yet this is still a colonial perspective.

The origins of Garifuna culture, the story of the deportations, and the histories of survival need to be told from Garifuna perspectives.  Oral histories, therefore, are vital.  Elders in every family should be telling about their ancestors, and every young person should be asking for these histories.  Oral histories can be told informally around the dinner table, or more formally on special occasions.  These can also be videotaped for future generations.  Eventually, these can be collected in Garifuna-owned archives.  No one person will know all the histories, but all elders should pass on the stories and knowledge of their ancestors.

Language: Language, of course, is important to every culture.  Developing an orthography to increase literacy and using media (including the Internet) as resources will help maintain the Garifuna language.  Speaking Garifuna in the home, though, is vital.  And children must learn to speak the language.  If children only comprehend the language, they will not speak Garifuna to their children.  In just over one generation, the language will be lost in that family.  In families where the language has already been lost, programs can be developed with elders in an extended family or in the local community.  Mentoring programs, where an adult mentors young people in their language learning, have been highly successful in a number of revitalization programs.  Maintaining the Garifuna language especially in the United States is without question a difficult task.  In the most successful cases, however, language learning begins at home.

Cultural Traditions: My own research focuses on studying spiritual belief (the Dugu) and ritual performances (the Wanaragua).  People express their identity and become part of a community through participation in cultural traditions.  For some, this may be emblematic.  They attend a November 19th or April 12th celebration once a year.  For others, these cultural performances are traditional, part of their everyday life.  These are not oppositional terms.  Young people may see a Wanaragua performance at a Garifuna event, for example, and they may then choose to learn more about the tradition.  As they learn the histories and languages (songs, rhythms, movements) of the Wanaragua, these emblematic performances become traditional rituals.  They invoke the ancestors.  Participants become active members of their community, not just on special days but throughout the year.  Participating in cultural traditions, therefore, is the primary means of continuing any culture.

Commemoration of the ancestors underscores all aspects of Garifuna culture.  By actively commemorating the ancestors, in telling their histories, in speaking their language, and in practicing their traditions, Garifuna culture will never be lost.



Opening Remarks: Jerry Castro
Live Performances by: Mundo Wanaragua, Hechun-Garinagu,
James Lovell & Garifuna Cultural Drums!
Keynote Speakers: Dr. Oliver Greene, Georgia State University
Dr. Michele Goldwasser, UC San Diego - Juan Carlos Sanchez, Garifuna Spiritual leader - Guillermo Alvarez on Substance Abuse & Recovery
Also “The Future of Garifuna Music” Roundtable with confirmed participations:
Paula Castillo, J. King, Rhodee Castillo, Gadu Nuñez, Cuellar, Dr. Oliver Greene, Jordao,  Sandra Bell, DJ Labuga, DJ Ervin Arzu, Noly Palacios, Fermin Arzu, Labuga.com, Monico Productions.


This year, GAHFU, Inc. is bringing the 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum to the Bronx, New York at the Charles R. Drew Educational Center at the NEW VENTURE SCHOOL building complex.  The event will be all day Saturday, April 14, 2007 with special guests speakers and cultural presentations.

Charles R Drew Educational Center Auditorium - IS 219 3630 Third Avenue Bronx NY 10456

Admission is free and limited.  Be there and be part of the solution.  We, garinagu, need to lead our future generations towards the right path, the path to success and survival. 


The 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2007 will be videotaped professionally by:

Official sponsors of GAHFU's event. - Patrocinadores oficiales del evento de GAHFU, Inc.

Luis Cayetano, Owner - 1094-96 Brook Avenue Bronx, NY 10456                                           Tel.(646) 401-5140 labugashipping@aol.com     

Envios de cajas y encomiendas a toda Guatemala!  

Oficina en Guatemala - Leonardo Fuentes 6ta. Avenida y 4ta. Calle "A" Puerto Barrios, Izabal      Telefono: (502) 7948-2863                           



Wanaragua World Dance Group was formed in 1999 by Aldo & Antonio Norales.  The Norales brothers were born in La Ceiba, Honduras and raised in Cristalles, Trujillo.  They traveled to the United States in the early 1970’s.  Their goal is to illustrate a unique dance that is the hallmark of the Garifuna culture.  The dance expresses a gratitude to our ancestors.  This dance is a small part of our vast, diverse and very rich culture for all to appreciate.  Their purpose is to illustrate that Wanaragua is a gift from our forefathers.  A gift passed down from generation to generation to remind us of where we came from, where we are, and hopefully where we are going.  It is a dance of hope and enlightenment that keeps us connected to our forefathers, our families and to God.  Wanaragua is that lifeline that keeps us connected and in touch with our roots from the day or ancestors left Africa to today.  It is that cord that binds us together as a people and representative of the love we shard with our families.  Wanaragua is that consciousness that allows us to live a balanced life.



ANTHONY CASTILLO "PG & SOUL" I am 100% Garifuna from root. Being proud of my Garifuna heritage, I would like to share the talent God gave me with my people. Earlier this
year I was given the opportunity to perform at The Woporu Park in The Bronx, and Linden Recreational Park in Brooklyn, New York. I will definitely embrace this opportunity given to me. It would be an honor to be a part of this extravaganza. Please consider my humble approach!


HECHUN-GARINAGU (costumbre garifuna) "Garifuna Tradition"

                                      THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

DR. OLIVER GREENE is a native of LaGrange, Georgia, is an assistant professor of ethnomusicology and music humanities at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a Ph. D. in musicology from Florida State University, master of music in vocal performance and master of sacred music from Southern Methodist University, and a bachelor of music in vocal performance from the College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He recently completed the documentary "Play, Jankunu Play: Garifuna Christmas Rituals in Belize" (forthcoming 2007), which was filmed in Dangriga, Belize.  His written publications include *Music behind the Mask: Men, Social Commentary, and Identity in Wanaragua John Canoe* in The Garifuna: A Nation Across Borders (2005), "The Garifuna Beluria and the Guadaloupean Léwoz:Comparing the Survival of African Identity in the New World* (2005, Complete online paper), "Ethnicity, Modernity, and Retention in the Garifuna Punta,* in Black Music Research Journal (2002), "The Dugu Ritual of the Garinagu of Belize: Reinforcing Values of Society through Music and Spirit Possession" in Black Music Research Journal (1998) and and articles in The Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular World Music (2005) and The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music (1998).  He has presented papers at the meetings of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Seminaire d'ethnomusicologie caribeenne at the Gwoka Festival in Guadeloupe, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the International Council of Traditional Music, and Center for Black Music Research (CBMR). As a recipient of a Rockefeller fellowship at the CBMR in Chicago he conducted fieldwork and research on the relationships between art, dance, and music in the expression of ethnic identity in the wanaragua (Jankunu) ritual of the Garifuna of Belize.  He has taught at Morris Brown College, Atlanta, GA; Clayton College and State University, Morror, GA; Columbus College and State University, Columbus, GA; and the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta., GA  

MICHELE GOLDWASSER is a professor at the University of California San Diego in the  Department of Communication.  Michelle Goldwasser works in the Communication & Anthropology Departments at UC San Diego.  She is
a lecturer and she teaches several courses and one of them is a course called "Biography and Life Stories." She also taught a course in "Garifuna Ancestral Worship in a Transnational Community" as well as Ritual Revisions of 'Black Carib' Identity.  Dr. Goldwasser will be sharing her research on the Garifuna people at the 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2007! She has been very active in the Garifuna community in Los Angeles by working very closely with Mr. Flavio Alvarez "Paps" who functions as the Wanaragua chief for the Wanaragua Dance Group.  She has also made herself available for the past 2 Annual Garifuna Community Forums in Los Angeles, California.  Dr. Goldwasser has also worked diligently with the "Garifuna Cultural Group" headed by Mrs. Martha Martinez. 

GUILLERMO ALVAREZ "CUELLAR".  Life had become a dead end street.  His constant drinking trying not to pass out and stay in control, made him one of the worlt abusers of alcohol in his family.  He pretended in front of his friends to be a good drinker who was always in control of his liquor.  His life was becoming precarious and complicated to the point that there was no place he frequented that didn't serve alcohol.  That was his life of addiction but as a dedicated musician, Cuellar (Kua-yar) developed a true love for the guitar.  He was one of the founding members of Isanigu The Punta Rock Soul-Jahs in New York in 1989.  Isanigu Band was the backup band for many of the most influencial Garifuna artists like: Chico Ramos, Mohubob Flores, Titiman Flores, Paula Castillo, Mimie, etc. Cuellar was born in La Buga Livingston, Guatemala.  He moved to New York back in 1984.  He has been working for the past 22 years for the city of New York in the waste management unit.  Cuellar will be speaking at the upcoming 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2007 about Substance Abuse and Its Consequences in the Garifuna Community.  He completed a 21-day-substance-abuse program in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 2005.   Mr. Alvarez wil also be participating in "The Future of Garifuna Music" roundtable.

JUAN CARLOS SANCHEZ was born in Livingston, Izabal Guatemala and he had his early education in La Buga (Livingston).  He then had to travel to Puerto Barrios to continue his higher education.  He studied at Instituto Domingo Juarros which an equivalent to a high school education.  In 1989, Mr. Sanchez started his calling within what is known as Garifuna Spirituality.  His spiritual guide was the late Basilio Castillo, a well known "Ounagulei" in La Buga.  Juan Carlos had that special call that only people within that circle know about.  His goal is that of maintaining and preserving the faith only found in Garifuna Spirituality.  Presently, Mr. Sanchez is working very closely with a group of spiritual leaders within the Garifuna Nation in New York.  He will be speaking about "Garifuna Spirituality in Relationship to Garifuna Unity"  .

JUAN CARLOS SANCHEZ nacio en Livingston, Izabal Guatemala, estudio su primaria en Livingston luego se traslada a Puerto Barrios para continuar sus estudios superiores hasta asi poder llegar a estudiar el 4o. grade de perito contador en el Instituto Domingo Juarros.  En el año 1,989 el Sr. Sanchez se inicia dentro de lo que se conoce en el ambiente garifuna como la Espiritualidad Garifuna.  Su guia espiritual fue el ya  fallecido Don Basilio Castillo "Ounagulei".  El Sr. Sanchez llego a adjudicarse con un grado muy especial dentro de la espiritualidad garifuna. Su meta es la de mantener viva la fe garifuna en su espiritualidad.  En el presente el Sr. Sanchez se encuentra trabajando muy cercanamente con varios grupos dentro de la espiritualidad garifuna en el area de Nueva York.  Juan Carlos Sanchez estara haciendo su presentacion hacerca de la "Espiritualidad Garifuna en Relacion a la Unidad Garifuna".



is the reigning queen of Punta.  She is well known as the Garifuna Indian - La India Garifuna from Guatemala.  Paula started her musical journey about 12 years ago when she decided to record her first album "La India Garifuna" which skyrockedted to number one in the garifuna musical scene.  Her meaningful lyrics and her original style of singing, made Paula Castillo a household name in every garifuna home not only in America but also in Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.  She has recorded 4 albums by now and that has allowed her to travel to Los Angeles for sold out performances backed up by New York's #1 cultural band Isanigu The Punta Rock Soul-Jahs.  Paula also performed in her native Livingston as well as Puerto Barrios and Quirigua in the state of Izabal, Guatemala.  She is an inspiration to garifuna women.  She believes in writing and singing meaningful songs which convey a message of unity, love and courage to the garifuna nation.  Paula Castillo will be participating in "The Future of Garifuna Music" Roundtable.

JAMES LOVELL is a multitalented and distinguished Garifuna artist from Dangriga, Belize.  James will have a cameo performance during the 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2007.James Lovell was born in the village of Mango Creek, but grew up in Dangriga Town Belize .  Born with a gift to sing, this ability has enabled him with many opportunities to perform in elementary and high school talent shows in Belize and neighboring countries.

 As a young aspiring musician, James was very much influenced by Pen Cayetano and the Turtle Shell Band, who released Punta Rock Music that was addressing the political, social and economic issues of the people of Belize .

 After graduating from Ecumenical High School , James joined the Belize Police Force, where he learned to play several instruments such as the guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, euphonium, saxophone and keyboards.  While in the Police Band, James took advanced music correspondence courses from the Royal School of England.  He learned to read music and to arrange musical compositions.

 In 1990, James migrated to the United States of America .  He put his music career on hold to join the United States Marine Corps.  Four years later he received an honorable discharge

James is currently the Musical Director of Ilagulei (Roots), a Garifuna Cultural Performing Arts Company.  He is the driving force in the Company’s musical department.  He is responsible for the formation and creation of Ilagulei’s Orchestra.

 In 1995, he produced and released his CD album entitled ‘CABASAN NUMARI’ (WHO’S GOING TO BE MY WIFE).  This is one of James’ songs recorded by “La Tribu Garifuna,” a band from Honduras .  Another band, Estrellas Ubou, pre-recorded James’ song, HESIENTIBUNU (I’m in Love with you).  The Album CABASAN NUMARI, (Who’s Going to Be My Wife), was very well received by the Garifuna fans in Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, New York, Los Angeles, Texas, Miami and other parts of the world.

 Presently James is employed with the New York Board of Education, where he works with severely emotionally challenged elementary and high school students manifesting behavioral problems.  He has brought out varying talents from each age group and encourages the students to dream, focus, work hard and succeed.  He is continuously helping these children to feel proud of their efforts, and has helped raise their self-esteem.  

 When asked about his goals and aspirations as a Punta Rock Artist, He replies, “To promote and procure the Garifuna Culture and Arts through music.  To expose and introduce Garifuna music, a unique and different art form, which will add a new dimension to the music world.”

James has composed several songs that are loved and well known within the Garifuna community in Belize , Honduras , Guatemala , Los Angeles , Chicago , New York , Texas and Miami .  He is one Garifuna Artist who qualifies to expose the Garifuna music, dance and language to the other cultures of the world.  While his career has taken him to the educational setting, he has not strayed from his roots.   He is presently educating the youth with the New York City Board of Education.  He is frequently featured in many musical showcases, radio and television interviews in the United States and abroad.  One thing we can be sure of, the names James Lovell, has only begun to be heard.   

J. KING is the legendary musician from Los Sea Boys from Honduras in New York. He joined Los Sea Boys in 1984.  He is well known for the rendition of the song "Garinagu Wagia" recorded on vinyl along with Los Sea Boys which became the Garifuna National anthem for many.  He was born in the village of Travesia, Puerto Cortes in Honduras.  In 1994 he debuts as a solo artist. In 1995 he created and produced a group of nusically inclined youth by the name of Travesia Band.  Then, he decides to launch a band made up of his own children which in 1997 came to be known as J Kids Band.  Garifuna Classic Band was born in 2004 and continues to be J. King's present musical group.  J. King will be participating in "The Future of Garifuna Music" roundtable. 

SANDRA BELL is a third generation carnival custume designer of the artistic Morris Family of Belmont, Trinidad & Tobago - West Indies.  She was trained by the late metal master, custome designer and innovator Ken Morris, considered to be one of Trinidad's National Treasurers.  Ms. Bell also has a BA in Art Administration from New York University and Certificates in field and video productions.  But Sandra Bell is best known to garifuna people as a promoter and booking agent who has taken punta rock artists from New York to a whole different level.  She works with world music, jazz and reggae artists.  Ms. Bell has booked Garifuna International Band to go on tour of several European nations, Trinidad & Tobago as well as various cities in the United States.  She was instrumental in bringing a garifuna band to perform at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Art in Washington, DC.

RHODEE CASTILLO The Garifuna Artist, Rhodel "Rhodee" Castillo, does not like to territorialize himself. First and foremost he is a proud Garifuna, raised in the coastal Garifuna communities of Hopkins Village and Dangriga Town in the Central American country of Belize.

At a tender age, Rhodee's musical experience took a life of its own within the cradle of his Garifuna culture. He was inspired to be a singer/artist by family members, local musicians and performers. Musicians such as Joseph "Joe Thump" Castillo, Junior Aranda, Paul Nabor, "Gabaga" Williams, Perfecta "Mass" Ramirez, a grand aunt, and many others who serenaded the community during the holiday seasons.

Throughout the early years, Rhodee continued to develop his own style with the early teachings of author and poet Marcella Lewis. With her guidance he performed with the Children's Cultural Group at the Annual Garifuna Settlement Day Events.
During his teen years, Rhodee continued to listen to many of these local artists that later included Pen Cayetano, founder and creator of a new and innovative sound which is today called Punta Rock.

Rhodee began performing with local bands fine tuning his musical talents, and in the meantime had began listening to international artists, Reggae poet, Mutabaruka, Bob Marley, Isaac Hayes, Jimmy Cliff, Marvin Gaye, Alpha Blondy and many others.

"I want to educate the world about Garifuna"

After graduating from Belize College of Arts and Science and Technology (BELCAST), Rhodee immigrated to the United States in 1986, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Chicago State University, two years later. In 1994 he received a Master's Degree from Roosevelt University, also in Chicago, all the time keeping his heart and mind close to his Garifuna roots.

Rhodee co-founded the Progressive Garifuna Alliance (PGA), an organization dedicated to the preservation and the advancement of the Garifuna Culture worldwide. Under Rhodee's strong leadership, the PGA's contributions to the Multi-Media Exhibit, The Garifuna Town Meetings, and the Annual Chicagoland Celebrations of Garifuna Culture, with proceeds benefiting the communities in Belize, have been very successful. Rhodee also contributed as a consultant and artist to "The Garifuna Journey", a documentary film by Andrea Leland and Kathy Berger. This film opens with Rhodee's poem "Our Children Must Know", demands that the truth to be told about the Garifuna history. The screening of this film at the Chicago Field Museum's African History Series Program opened the eyes of many new admirers and brought a profound respect for the Garifuna history and lifestyle.

With a humanitarian concern for social issues affecting the world community and the Garifuna culture in particular, Rhodel "Rhodee" Castillo, has created a compilation of music with a new innovated rhythm blended with a Garifuna tradition. So with a mixture of Punta Rock, a touch of reggae beats, a pinch of soul, and all heart, IN EXILE, is a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed.

JERRY CASTRO has been very instrumental in bringing the 3rd Annual Garifuna Community Forum to the Bronx's New York.  He has had an illustrious career as a community activist and in the political arena in the his State of New York.  Mr. Castro will be doing the honors of addressing the audience who will be attending the forum this April.  He has been selected to do the opening remarks.  Jerry participated in last year's garifuna community forum in Los Angeles, California and was received with great expectations by the Angelinos.  During his presentation on the political movement in the garifuna community, he gave the people the motivation they needed to become more involved in politics not only in America but also in our home countries.

The following musicians have confirmed their participation in "The Future of Garifuna Music" Roundtable:

GADU NUNEZ was born in Puerto Barrios in the caribbean state of Izabal, Guatemala.  In 1975, Gadu was invited to join his school's marching band because he had shown a strong inclination towards music and especifically in percussion.  In 1981, he joins the Wagia Band both as a vocalist and a conga player.  Consequently, Gadu is invited to be part of a bigger and more popular band Los Angeles de Puerto Barrios.  The very popular Black Fever Band gives Gadu a chance not only to play the bongos, but the congas and even the bass.  As he showed more professionalism and musical brightness, he was recruited to play for the Naval Combo between  1984 and 1987.  Then came Mangle Band and of course Salsarengue Band while still in his native Guatemala.  Gadu decided to migrate to the United States of America in 1989 and in his arrival to New York, he is quick to join the most popular garifuna band in the East Coast - La Buga Boys.  Gadu also worked with the legendary Eduardo Ballesteros, La Gran Tribu Garifuna Band, Grupo H, Garifuna Star Band, Amistad Garifuna and the late Garifuna Classic Band in 2004. 

NOLY PALACIOS was one of the original members of Black Fever Band having played the bongos and recorded songs like Wata Cerelac and others.  Noly is a very dedicated and professional percussionist; he has played the congas for Garifuna Star Band.  Mr. Palacios has traveled to Europe at least twice along with International Garifuna Band.  He has also recorded songs with Black Fever and Garifuna Star Band. Noly's son happens to be one of the best keyboard players in New York, the talented Dieter Palacios.

FERMIN ARZU currently dedicated to the Garifuna Spirituality in La Buga.  Fermin Arzu recorded the very popular song Fedu.

DJ ERVIN ARZU ( Erv Ski ) Arzu recently released his new album "one more time" and had made other recordings in the past. Ervin was born in the borough of Brooklyn, N.Y. in the month of June. Ervin parents are from Livingston Izabal, Guatemala C.A. He also speaks, writes, reads his parents native language which is Garifuna. Ervin introduced himself into music in 1979 as a D.J. he gained recognition in that field then in the late 80'S early 90'S he introduced himself as a solo artist and recording this is Ervin's 4th recording and every recording has been a succcess including this album one more time.

GARIFUNA NEW GENERATION BAND (GNG) Music you feel in your bones” responds a member of the Punta Rock band Garifuna New Generation when asked to describe their music and the genre they perform. Punta is strong, rhythmic, musical manifestation of the Garifuna people of Central America; a cultural explosion of African and Black Carid indigenous roots. Formed in 1994, band members, Alex, Eddie, Cocho, Dennis, Omar, and Steven, all of Guatemalean heritage, have traveled a long road of trials and tribulations that has culminated in the band’s musical debut, The Struggle. Influenced by bands such as Punta rebels, Garifuna Kids and Labuga Boys, the band was assembled by foundersm Randy Arzu and Gilbert. The band has dedicated tha past ten years to developing their musical talents (each member plays a minimal of two instruments), and enriched their musical performance, learning and playing alongside other Punta bands. Garifuna New Generation has performed at numerous local venues in New York, including but not limited to Templo, Los Azules, the Bronx Masonic Temple, the Belizean festival in Brooklyn, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and appeared on Bronx Net (Channel 69) Centro America Show. Garifuna New Generation looks forward to taking their music to the new levels; performing various styles of music within the Garifuna, Latin and Caribbean traditions; appealing to all age groups and introducing their music to people outside of the traditional Punta fan base.

ISANIGU BAND THE PUNTA ROCK SOULJAHS was the back-up band for all garifuna culture musicians like Chico Ramos, Mohubob Flores, Titiman Flores, Mimie, Paula Castillo and others.  Isanigu started way back in the early 90's playing some of the most traditional punta rock songs with that touch and flavor that we all like; the garaoun (drum), turtle shells, lead electric guitar, sisira (shakers) and of course the keyboards by the versatility of Jordao Gonzalez and the lyrics and sweet voice of Zairo-Marlon Nuñez and Ideal-Rolando Castillo.  Isanigu was the pioneering band that brought audiences down on their knees with their tentalizing rythym fueled by Chocola's garaoun.  They recorded 2 albums; one on cassette called "Riza 94" and the hottest recording of all time "Añahan Isanigu" that you see in this cover.

HECHUN-GARINAGU is one of the hottest cultural group of the moment.  Hailing from New York, as most Honduran Garifuna bands, Hechun-Garinagu comes injected with the pride and beauty of its people, the people of Santa Fe, Colon - Honduras.  They recently performed live on Centro America Show Channel 69 with Murphy Valentine. Hechun-Garinagu was born from the fusion of Libaña Marasa Band in New York and the cultural dance group that you see today.  They started performing and recording since 2004 under the Libaña Marasa Band name.  The band members have the devotion and the dedication to bring us all the way from Santa Fe, Colon their cultural and musical gift.  Hechun-Garinagu the band that you have to see and apreciate to believe.  True Garifuna culture at its best! DJ Labuga.

RONY FIGUEROA, was born in Guatemala. He earned a degree in Marketing and Advertising from Colegio La Ilustracion, Mazatenango.  He will be co-hosting the forum in New York. He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1983.  Rony also obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, Computer Information Systems in 1991 from California State University Dominguez Hills.  He became acquainted with Garifuna people during his childhood living in Guatemala and traveling with his mother working as a government liason for Family Planning. Then, in 1990 he was introduced to Flavio Alvarez then President of Union Livingston Soccer Club. He started associating with garinagu volunteering to work on social events to benefit the people of La Buga-Livingston. Rony Figueroa has produced numerous albums and promoted many events.  Some of the work has been with Madness and Glen Sampson, Garifuna Star Band, Sopps Sanchez, Isanigu Band, Inebesey Band, Macako, Lalu Lino, Lo Mejor de la Punta Chapina (DVD) and presently working as Vice-President of Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc. in Long Beach, California.  He also worked with Hermandad Livingsteña and Garifuna for Progress Organization which were responsible for bringing Paula Castillo to Los Angeles along with Isanigu Band, Garifuna Star Band and Chico Ramos together for the first time. DJ Labuga partnered with Static Productions to bring for the first time to Los Angeles and the U.S. the very popular Punta Rebels Band from Belize.  He has a large collection of Garifuna music that dates back to the early days of recordings produced on audio cassettes, vinyls and compact discs now. In October 2005, The Guatemalan General Consulate in Los Angeles gave Rony Figueroa a recognition award for his hard work and dedication to the Guatemalan Artists Circle in The United States.  And in 2006, Garinagu Empowerment Movement gave Rony The Garifuna Achievement Award as an outstanding Entrepreneur & Activist in the community.

                SOME POINTERS ABOUT THE UPCOMING FORUM by Jerry Castro

For the past two year's, the Garifuna Community Forum has served as a venue to further enhance and dialogue the issues currently facing the Garifuna-American community. Having this forum in Garifuna Village in New York is by far one of the most awaited events New York Garinagu should engage and interact with as the goal into solving community issues and bringing resources to the community reaches another step.

Let us not forget, however, that this is a community event where we should bring community issues and solve them with a strategic community agenda. One of the focal and integral part that the general Garifuna community facing is the lost of culture and limitations to its identity. The present Garifuna generation don't have a clue about who they are, what can they become as well as how important their role is with its neighboring cultures. Young Garinagu, like young Latinos and young African-American kids should be empower to govern and manifest their future.

Another major and huge component we are facing presently is the lost of the Punta Rock artist and its stock. There use to be a time and moment when there were ten Punta Rockers to one Bachatero. Today, the tables have turn to include ten bachateros to every half Punta Rocker. This is a cultural disaster since Punta Rock had been one of the main engines of cultural identification among the youth as well as a social promotion to recognize the new faces of the Garifuna. In 2001, UNESCO declared Garifuna "Intangible to the Human Culture" and recognized the challenges facing our community in a competitive future.

Business equals a growth of economics equals access to opportunity and job creations and entrepreneurial  ventures. Just like some community organizations last for only 90 days, the same can be said for restaurants and other unprepared business initiative. As a person who have worked both inside and outside the govrnment realm, there are thousands of opportunities to make New York Garinagu successful entreprenuers. But they have to seek and stick to the program about how serious and competitive the field is. Fear and shame are things of the 20th century. We are closing in on 2008, yet we don't have a Garifuna Chamber of Commerce that specializes in our products and dishes. 

I mentioned Community organizations lasting no more than 90 days. Our community is growing but is going no where without its institutions in education and cultural preservation. A few months ago, there was a online debate about the need of speaking, reading and writing the Garifuna Language. That's the ultimate goal, but how do we go about accomplishing such a goal? How do we differentiate what's important to implement and what's not? If that were to happen, how far would we get in debating how Garifuna should be read, written as well as spoken since we have diffrences on the way we read, write and speak the language?

Last but not least....politics. Whether we want to recognize it or not, we live in a society fed and driven by politics. The apartments people live in is a result of political struggle. The permits we get to close the streets and parks are the results of politics. The money we make or minimum wage is a result of politics. We don't get none because of our politics. A growing community is measured by the numbers they posses that translates into how many votes they can cast to set a budget priority locally (community boards), municipally (city council) state and federally. Many communities have adopted these things and are doing well. Take a look at Bachata, who rented the "salones" and where are our artists today? How much do we spend yet how much of a retail we posses?  Whom have we voted into office, yet why don't we have a Garifuna Research Center, an Idabinya Housing Complex or Libaribaba Boulevard?

 These things are very important and should serve as a starting point or a thought to develop our community. There's no question we have potential but we must believe that ourselves before we are warned we are not good enough.....only better.

See you at the Garifuna Community Forum on April 14 at the Charles R. Drew Educational Center in The Bronx.

Aba Isieni - JC



Note: View video clips of the 2006 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum:


Posted on Saturday April 22, 2006


Rony & Cheryl: 

I want to congratulate you for a very successful Second Annual Garifuna Forum L.A. 2006. I was honored to be a keynote speaker in such an important event for our community and was very pleased to have shared some pleasant moments of candid discussion with both of you. As you know, I did not move at all during the forum and it was simply because I enjoyed every presentation and did not want to miss any of them. I highly commend you for the time and effort you invest in preserving the uniqueness of the Garifuna culture. As I mentioned during my presentation, it’s younger people like you who that assure those of us before you that our efforts have not been in vain and that our culture will not become extinct. Thank you for very much for organizing the forum and for inviting me nd continued success. Sincerely, 

José Francisco Avila


Posted on Thursday March 23, 2006


By Rony Figueroa

History has it that a society that stays together, remains together. An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child.  Another popular saying is united we stand, divided we fall.  As John Henrik Clarke says “A race is like a man.  Until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history and love its own memories, it can never fulfill itself completely.”  These statements truly apply to the Garifuna society of today.  Garinagu are a good example of Historian John Henrik Clarke’s quote.  

As in any other society, the Garifuna who have been living in the United States for quite a long time now, are beginning to feel the pressure of cultural identity and survival. Here is a clear example; Ms. Martha Martinez asked a very crucial question to one of the panel members during the 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2006.  She deliberately asked “What can we do to preserve our culture?”  Nobody in the panel or in the audience could address her question immediately because it is a very complicated issue that needs to be dealt with responsibly by the people and the community leaders overall.  It takes one person to make a difference. 

It takes one person to take the initiative and put words and thoughts into action.  Mrs. Martinez keeps the culture alive by sharing it with the children, teaching them the values of being a Garifuna.  These values include talking to them about the way Garinagu prepare the food that they eat, the music that Garinagu perform and dance to and the meaning to the lyrics that the Garinagu sing in their songs.

Dr. Little, one of the forum’s keynote speakers, said that Garinagu like to identify themselves with a nationality and not by race.   “I’m a Belizean-Garifuna.  I’m a Garifuna from Guatemala or I’m Honduran.”  Garinagu should be Garifuna first before anything else.”  This type of mentality only hinders the progress of the community. 

He identified another problem that not only affects Garinagu, but also any people of African descent.  Dr. Little stated that there is a great need to train our people to be leaders and not followers.  Parents need to demand from their schools in their communities that they teach their children how to be leaders, movers and shakers and not subordinates or followers.

During his presentation, Dr. Little mentioned the concept used by the Jews after the holocaust - We will never forget!  He said that these people learned to never forget by telling their story to the world even up to this day.  Today, Jews continue to teach their children and the world that the holocaust will never be forgotten and they will not allow it to happen again.  Garinagu, on the other hand, must continue tell their story.  They must never forget who they are and where they come from.  Another exile is out of the question.  It happened once from Yurumein to Roatan.  Now in America, Garinagu should never forget and teach their children their story.

One of the most important aspects of this forum was the moment in which Dr. Furusa, a Zimbabwean professor of Africana Studies at California State University Dominguez Hills, announced that he has incorporated Garifuna studies within his curricula.  Dr. Furusa invited the audience to continue to stay focused and to share the wealth of the Garifuna culture to others.  He also invited the youth in the audience to come and explore Cal State Dominguez Hills as a possible venue for their college education.  The children of Dr. Furusa were present at the forum.  They left to go home realizing how much of the African culture is still alive and preserved among Garinagu.

Garifuna economic development was Mr. Jose Avila’s topic.  Garinagu are gifted entrepreneurs, he added.  The Garifuna coast in Honduras is the most sought-after real estate at this time.  They are trying to buy our land, he said, referring to the non-Garifuna.  We must not sell but utilize what we have and build resorts to bring work to our people. That it should be the very own Garifuna people who should invest in the development of their own land and not the ‘terratenientes’- the well-to-do.

Garifuna have been accustomed to fend for themselves.  Sadly though, he said that, his people have gone from being producers to being consumers.  Garifuna no longer grow their own crops, but buy it from the local markets.  They are no longer self-sufficient but reliant on outsiders for goods and services. Mr. Avila proposed the Garifuna Economic Development plan, but for more information I suggest you visit: www.newhorizoninvestclub.com

The City of Los Angeles has officially granted the Garifuna people April 12 as the National Garifuna Day in Los Angeles.  The man responsible for this outstanding achievement is Mr. Tomas F. Zuñiga.  Mr. Zuñiga is not only the founder but also the president of Garinagu Empowerment Movement (G.E.M.).  His presentation during the forum was very eloquent and straight forward.  He said that what this holiday means to the people is that as an employee of the city of Los Angeles, a person of Garifuna heritage, can take the day off from work.  This holiday is now being celebrated with a big street festival between 41st and 43rd streets on Avalon Blvd.  Garinagu can come out and celebrate their pride and heritage.  The event features a number of cultural acts with local punta rock bands and musicians playing live drums to the beat of the turtle shells.  The festival goers can enjoy a delicious, traditional Garifuna dish or an appetizer like coconut bread, dabuledu (coconut candy bar) and perhaps bimecacule (sweet rice).

Jorge Garifuna’s Garinet Global, Inc. gave a technological touch to the forum.  Garinet Global, Inc. was born out of the need to fill the gap left after Garifuna-World.com went out of business.  Mr. Jorge Garifuna took us on a tour of the Garinet empire.  He shared with all of the audience not only the history of Garinet, but the where he is taking it now.  Garinet, he said, has hit one million hits in one month and it keeps growing.  Jorge recognizes the help that he has gotten from his father Mr. Ruben Reyes.  His father has been very supportive of his endeavor from the beginning.  Even Mrs. Cheryl Noralez was given credit for the outstanding pieces of writings that she has shared with Garinet readers.  Mr. Jerry Castro was also recognized as an instrumental person in the development and growth of this website.  The articles he has written not only concern the achievements accomplished by outstanding people in the community but also the most crucial issues affecting the Garifuna Diaspora in the United States and abroad.  Jerry’s articles have given Garinet an edge over the competition.

Leaders in the community in the U.S. must learn how to work with or around those who are difficult, said Mr. Jerry Castro.  Jerry, as a Garifuna activist, has seen the problems that his people face in the Bronx, New York.  Mr. Castro has worked in and around the Bronx dealing with the issues having to do with the need to be politically involved in the community. Also, issues dealing with education, jobs, equality and inclusiveness when it comes to the distribution of resources in the community.  He has helped Garinagu with entrepreneurial spirit to legally establish their businesses.  He has served as a community liaison advocating for the rights of the Garinagu in the district where they live and work.

The exciting voice and storytelling of a woman came alive when Mrs. Josefina Gregorio stepped up to the podium to share her knowledge of Garifuna history from the people of the town of Livingston, Guatemala also known as La Buga.  Josie helped facilitate the forum by providing us with an array of community announcements like the upcoming San Isidro Labrador Mass which will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2006 at San Rafael Catholic Church in Los Angeles.  She addressed the audience in Garifuna, Spanish and in English.  She is currently working in the construction of a medical clinic in her hometown of Livingston with donations of money and medical equipment from any sources available in the community.

Mr. Ruben Reyes is well known for having translated the national anthems of Guatemala Belize and Honduras to Garifuna.  He was introduced to the audience as a Garifuna community leader and entrepreneur.  Mr. Reyes started “Wafadaha Uwara” “Building Together”, an investment venture in Central America.  He runs this investment club where 99 percent of the investors are Garifuna.  They set up internet cafes in selected Garifuna villages for the locals to have access to a wealth of information as well as access to inexpensive telephone connections to the world via internet.  The going rates are very affordable for the users and the money they raised is re-invested into refurbishing more computers back in the United States to be shipped out to Honduras for more establishments to be opened for other villages to benefit from it.

In conclusion, having not been for the personal effort of these leaders and scholars, the 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum, would not have been a reality and a success.  I believe that in order to obtain all of the information that the audience got for free at the forum, we would have had to take a class in Garifuna studies at Cal State Dominguez Hills University for about $1500 plus per semester and we would have still come out short of knowledge.   The theater at Los Angeles Southwest College was the perfect setting for this event and GAHFU, Inc. would like to take this opportunity to thank Blanchie for having been very professional, efficient and cordial to us throughout our event.

GAHFU, Inc. offers its gratitude to the following performers for their undivided attention to our call to action: The Wanaragua Cultural Dance Group of L.A., Hamalali Garinagu “Gayusa” by the Los Angeles Culture Group led by Mrs. Martha Martinez, Wadani Dance Group; the Chosen Ones Band and its director; Glen Sampson and Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers.  And last but not least, the number one sound equipment company, Garifuna-owned, LA Sound Tech and Limo Services by Mr. Eden Ramos.



The pictures and DVD taken at the 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2006 will be available in approximately two weeks.  The DVD will feature all of the keynote speakers as well as the cultural performances of the Wanaragua, Wadani, Hamalali Garinagu, Chosen Ones Band and Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers.

Please click below to view  Jorge Garifuna's pictures from  the 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2006. (You will be leaving our website as you click on this link)



Saturday March 11, 2006
10:00 am – 5:00 pm


Production & Pre-production: GAHFU, Inc. P.O. Box 10054 Long Beach, CA 90810
(323) 898-6841

LA Sound Tech professional sound for concerts indoor and outdoor & Limo Service Eden Ramos, Owner (323) 359-5750

Charles Palacio Cocal Photography (818) 414-2939

Timothy Lambey Video Taping Service – Digital Mastering
(213) 458-0542
Email: TimothyLambey@yahoo.com

Los Angeles Southwest College Theater
1600 West Imperial Hwy. Los Angeles, CA 90047
(323) 241-5225 Blanchie Hollier

Libaya Baba Cultural Drummer
Maabatuwa Cultural Center
5020 South Normandie Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90037
Kelsie Bernardez (562) 881-6326

Hamalali Garinagu “Gayusa”
Mrs. Martha Martinez (323) 232-6841
Garifuna Culture Group

Wadani Garifuna Dancers
Janice Gregorio (323) 233-9402
Wanaragua Cultural Dancers
Flavio Alvarez, Chief (323) 731-8214

The Chosen Ones Band
The Hottest Punta Rock Band in Los Angeles
Glenford Sampson (323)864-6284

Stage Manager: Cheryl L. Noralez
Production: GAHFU, Inc.
Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United, Inc.
Copyrighted 2006

Master of Ceremonies: Carlos Domingo Alvarez & Rony Figueroa
Garifuna History by: Carlos Domingo Alvarez
Opening Remarks: Josefina Gregorio, President Hermandad Livingsteña
Powerpoint Presentation Produced by: Rony Figueroa & Cheryl Noralez
Catering Provided by: Mrs. Elliotte J. Noralez
Printing Provided by: Mrs. Beulah E. Francisco
Youth Volunteers: JahLisa Noralez & Isani R. Figueroa
Videotaping Partially Financed by: Jessica J. Martinez

Event Sponsored by:
Atlantida Internacional  Inc. Encomiendas a Honduras (877) 285-2468
Fraternidad de Cotzumalguapa & Fraternidad Retalteca de Los Angeles
Doña Rosa (323) 971-5355

Special Thanks to the Following Dignitaries:
Consul General of Belize in Los Angeles, Honorable Roy Young
Honorary Consul General of St. Vincent & The Grenadiens, Dr. Cadrin E. Gill
Consul General of Guatemala in Los Angeles, Mr. Cabrera, General Secretary

Keynote Speakers Order of Appearance:
Carlos Domingo Alvarez, Garifuna History
Jorge Garifuna, Business Technology & the Web
Tomas F. Zuñiga, Garifuna Empowement Movement & The Annual Street Fest
Dr. Munashe Furusa, Cultural & Historical Connection As It Relates to the African Caribbean Experience
Jose Avila, Garifuna Economic Development
Dr. William Little, The Role the University Plays within the Garifuna Society
Jerry Castro, Political Role in the Garifuna Society
Ruben Reyes, Wafadaha Uwara (building together)
Mrs. Martha Martinez, Intro of the Cultural Performers & Keeping the Culture Alive



This past weekend I simply had a blast! Below is a briefing on how
things went:

On Saturday, March 11, the Garifuna Forum 2006 took place in Los
Angeles. I attended with my lovely family and Jorge Garifuna Jr. who stole the
show :) In addition to that, I gave a presentation about Garinet’s past,
present and future.

The event was full of powerful speakers, including Mr. Tomas Zuniga,
from GEM, Mr. Jose Avila from New Horizon, Mr. Jerry Castro from Lidani Garifuna Times,
Mr. Domingo, my great father Ruben Reyes  and Mrs. Mata Martinez, among many.

As special guests there were the Consul General of Belize, Roy G. Young
and Dr. Cadrin Gill, to name a few.

Once again, Cheryl and Rony have elevated the bar beyond our greatest
imaginations. I sincerely thank them for making this a unique event in
its class. I came home as changed person as a result of the great
speeches and presentations.

I took over 300 photos and I will post them on GarifunaPhotos.com
before the end of the week.

After the event Mr. Zuniga, Mr. Avila, Mr. Castro, Mr. Reyes and myself
had a very powerful meeting from which you will get more details in the
months to come.

On Sunday, March 12, I attended a special meeting with the Ambassador
of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We were invited by Dr. Gill. I’m
super glad that I was able to attend, specially, since I had the
opportunity to meet many great individuals from St. Vincent and the Grenadines,
Africa and other countries. Dr. Jorge Bernardez was also present at this
reunion in addition to Mr. Avila, and Mr. Reyes.

Mr. Zuniga was able to give the Ambassador a tote bag made by
Wagiameme, a CD by Rhodee Castillo and a great t-shirt among other things.

I have posted some pictures at the following location for your viewing:


That is how my weekend went. I had a blast, my family had a blast and I
was super happy to see Mr. Castro and Mr. Avila that had flew from New
York, thanks to Cheryl and Rony!

Jorge Garifuna
Professional Web Developer
"Your Web Solution Partner"


We would like to thank each and everyone of the keynote speakers for having made the annual garifuna forum a very successful one.  We would like to thank in particular to: Mr. Jerry Castro, Bronx, NY District Office - State Assembly Community Liaison and Mr. Jose Avila from New Horizons Investments for having made that personal effort to fly from New York to take part in this memorable event.  Also, our congratulations go to the wonderful presentation made by Mr. Tomas F. Zuñiga, President of Garinagu Empowerment Movement.  Mr. Jorge Garifuna, CEO Garinet Global, Inc., your information about technology and your business was most insightful.  Mr. Ruben Reyes from Wafadaha Uwara (building together) investment club in Central America. It truly gave us a taste of how Garinagu in Honduras have benefited from the internet cafe business venture where they can make long-distance calls from Honduras to the U.S. for literally pennies.  Mr. Carlos Domingo Alvarez, a cultural activist, Wanaragua dancer, drummer and educator.  Thank you Mr. Alvarez for your teachings in the Garifuna history. 

Mrs. Josefina Gregorio, your opening remarks and your teachings about the Garifuna from Livingston - La Buga - Guatemala was most appreciated.  We couldn't forget the academic approach that Dr. Little and Dr. Furusa, professors at Cal State Dominguez Hills, gave to the 2nd Annual Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2006.

To all the performers starting from the Wanaragua to Wadani Cultural Dancers, your contribution to this event was key to the sucess of this event.  The audience loved your show and wanted to see even more of what they had already seen.  We all enjoyed the musical rendition of the best of the Garifuna ancestral songs given to us by the Hamalali Garinagu "Gayusa" from Ms. Martha Martinez.  Also, Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers and The Chosen Ones Band; without all of you, the Garifuna Forum wouldn't have been such a success. 

We also would like to thank the people behind the entire show; Mrs. Joanne Noralez, who supplied the food for the performers and dignitaries.  She also contributed monetarily to help us pay for the college theater.  To Jessica Martinez for having also contributed money to help us pay for the videorecording of the event.  Beulah Francisco, thank you for donating the programs which were distributed to the audience. 

Thank you to our sponsors: Atlantida International  

Thank you to the Fraternidades de Cotzumalguapa & Reu, Guatemala.  The food they were selling during the event was delicious.  These two fraternities of social character were selling food to fundraise moneys to help the children in Guatemala get a school and computer equipment to aid in their education.

The Garifuna Culture Group led by Mrs. Martha Martinez had a very informative table which offered cd's, dvd's for sale and it also displayed some Garifuna artifacts.

To Garinagu Empowerment Movement for such an informative display of the different events that GEM sponsors including the Garifuna Street Fest 2006 to be celebrated on Saturday, April 8, 2006 on Avalon between 41st and 43rd Streets in Los Angeles. 

To Mr. Eden Ramos from L.A. Sound Tech (323) 359-5750 for having donated the sound system which helped us to better present the garifuna performers especially the Chosen Ones Band, Hamalali Garinagu and Libaya Baba Cutural Drummers.

Mr. Flavio Alvarez, Chief of the Wanaragua Cultural Dancers can be reached by calling (323) 731-8214.  Thank you for such a magnificent performance.

The Chosen Ones Band can be contacted at (323) 864-6284


Wadani Dancers can be contacted by calling Janice at (323) 233-9204



1.     - 10:00 am – Opening Remarks by Josefina Gregorio, President of Hermandad Livingsteña

2.     - Introduce the dignitaries as well as the presidents and representatives of fraternities, associations and organizations by Josefina Gregorio, President of Hermandad Livingsteña

3.     - 10:15 am – Carlos Domingo Alvarez & Melecio R. Gonzalez, MC’s  give a brief overview of the program for the day

4.     - 10:20 am – Carlos D. Alvarez & Melecio R. Gonzalez’s Power Point Presentation: Garifuna History(20 min.) Q & A (20 min.)

5.     - 11:00 am - Introduce keynote speaker Mr. Jorge Garifuna, CEO of Garinet Global, Inc.  Topic: “Business, Technology and the Web” (20 min. + 10 min. Q & A for all keynote speakers)

6.     - 11:30 am - Introduce keynote speaker Garifuna politician and community advocate Mr. Jerry Castro from the Bronx, New York on “Political Role in the Garifuna Society.”

7.     - 12:00 pm - Introduce keynote speaker Ruben & Jamie Reyes on “Wafadaha Uwara” (Building Together)

8.     - 12:30 pm - Introduce keynote speaker Mr. Tomas F. Zuñiga, President of GEM - Garinagu Empowerment Movement and Vice-President of NACART -  National Central American Roundtable speaking on the Annual “Garifuna Street Fest”

9.     1:00 pm Introduce keynote speaker Dr. Furusa on “Cultural and Historical Connection As It Relates to the African Caribbean experience.”

10. - 1:30 pm - Introduce keynote speaker Mr. Jose Francisco Avila, a very successful Garifuna who will be speaking about “Garifuna Economic Development.”

11. - 2:00 pm – Introduce keynote speaker Dr. Little “The Role that the University Plays Within the Garifuna Society.”

12.  - 2:30 pm - Performance by Wadani Cultural Dancers (30 min)

13. - 3:00 pm - Performance by “Wanaragua Culltural Dance Group of L.A.” ( 30 min.)

14. - 3:30 pm – Performance by The Chosen Ones Band (30 min.) 

15.  - 4:00 pm Performance by Hamalali Garinagu “Gayusa” Garifuna Culture Group led by Mrs. Martha Martinez (25 min.)

16.  - 4:30 pm Performance by “Libaya Baba” Cultural Drums 

17. -  4:55 pm Closing Remarks By Cheryl Noralez & Rony Figueroa


Students are encouraged to attend this cultural event which brings together the best that the Garifuna society in Los Angeles has to offer.  Please make arrangements for large groups by calling (323) 898-6841 (Rony)

GAHFU is pleased to announce the live performances by the Wanaragua Dance Group of Los Angeles, Punta Cartel Band, The Chosen Ones Band, Hamalali Garinagu "Gayusa" Culture Group and Libaya Baba Cultural Drummers.

We are proud to announce that Dr. Little will be one of our keynote speakers.  Dr. Little will be speaking about the Role that the University Plays Within the Garifuna Society.

Dr. William (Bill) Little
Africana Studies
California State University, Dominguez Hills
1000 East Victoria Street-LCH A332
Carson, CA 90747-0001
Email: wlittle@dhvx20.csudh.edu
Dr. William A. Little,  is currently the chair of the Department of Africana Studies at California State University, Dominguez Hills.  He received his Doctorate and Masters in Political Science from the University of Washington.  Dr. Little's areas of Africana specialization include African Governments and Politics, Africana Political Thought, Africana Race and Identity Politics, Africana Leaders and Africana Family.

Dr. Little was a  Visiting Professor at the University of KwaZulu Natal and the University of Durban Westville in South Africa. Dr. Little publications include Culture and Economic Development in the African World? in The Utilization of Knowledge and Technology in Developing African Communities, edited by Emmanuel Chiwome and A Walk with the Ancestors across time: A collection of Poems and Reflections, Mood Books Publishers.  He co-authored with Selase Williams a forthcoming publication entitled, Borders in All of Us: A Global Approach to Three Diasporic Communities.


We welcome businessman Mr. Jose Francisco Avila!  Mr. Avila is a very successful Garifuna who will be speaking about  Garifuna Economic Development.

José Francisco Avila 

José Francisco Avila is founder and president of the New Horizon Investment Club of New York City, which he founded with nine other Garifunas with the objective of pooling their financial resources to learn how to invest in the stock market and subsequently become active participants in the economic development of the Garifuna Diaspora. Since its inception in May of 2000, New Horizon has raised over $100,000.

Mr. Avila is a founding member of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. and currently serves as its treasurer; he is co-founder of the Garifuna World website, and organized the first and second Garifuna Summit Meetings in 1991-1992; He also produced the first Garifuna Music Awards in New York City in 1997.

He received a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from Bentley College in  Boston Massachusetts; an Associate in Applied Arts, Real Estate, from Richland College in Dallas, Texas.


We are also very excited to announce that Dr. Munashe Furusa will be also another one of our keynote speakers.  Dr. Furusa will be speaking about the Cultural and Historical Connection As It Relates to the African Caribbean experience.

Dr. Munashe Furusa
Africana Studies
California State University, Dominguez Hills
1000 East Victoria Street-LCH A332
Carson, CA 90747-0001
Email: mfurusa@csudh.edu

Munashe Furusa holds a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in African Literature and Critical Theory from The University of Zimbabwe. He is the Chair of Africana Studies and teaches courses in Africana Studies and the Humanities Program. His areas of expertise include Critical Theory, African Literature and Culture, African Caribbean, African American, Afro-Latin American and Russian Literatures. His co-authored and co-edited books include Introduction to Shona Culture (1996) and Indigenous Knowledge Technology in African and African Diasporan Communities: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches (2000), An Introduction to Africana Studies: A Reader (Fall 2005) and The Borders in All Of US: New Approaches to Three Global Communities (Fall 2005).

GAHFU proudly announces the participation of the up and coming Garifuna politician and community advocate Mr. Jerry Castro from the Bronx, New York.  Jerry will be speaking about the Political Role in the Garifuna Society.

Jerry Castro, Bronx, NY District Office - State Assembly Community Liaison

Mr. Castro joined the New York State Assembly as a Community Liaison to ensure the quality of representation New Yorkers deserve.  In addition, he did it to open a window of opportunities to engage the Garifuna Society in the decision making process of the city and state of New York.   Jerry has also received the opportunity to serve Assembly member Michael Benjamin in his district office in the Bronx.

"My interests in getting involved in government comes from my desire as well as my family's history to represent not only their values and hard work, but to represent my community.  The Garifuna American community." adds Mr. Castro.  The district to which he is serving, has a diversity of people from different Caribbean and non-Caribbean communities including those of  Garifuna ancestry. 


We are very excited to have Mr. Ruben and Jaime Reyes as part of the Garifuna Community Forum speaker pannel.

Ruben Reyes, Garifuna Community Leader & Entrepreneur ; he started “Wafadaha Uwara” “Building Together”, an investment venture in Central America.  Mr. Reyes is also a Garifuna Author, Writer and Linguist.  He translated the national anthems of the countries of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras into the Garifuna language.  Ruben will be doing his presentation along his brother Jaime Reyes a dedicated Entrepreneur and Activist.


Mr. Jorge Garifuna will be speaking about his Technology and Web Design business.

Jorge Garifuna, Garinet Global, Inc., CEO

Jorge Garifuna is a Computer Scientist and Real Estate professional, who loves to serve his Garifuna Community. Jorge has served as vice-president of former New York-based, Garifuna youth organization, Lileiti Dufigati, has been the president to Los Angeles-based, Garifuna organization, SONHOCA, and holds membership with various Garifuna organizations, such as Wafadaha Uwara, and national technology organizations, such as ACM and IEEE. Jorge has donated his time to lecture classes about Computer & Internet usage for Garifuna organizations like, MUGAMA. Additionally, Jorge has trained high school students in programming, for national competition, under the BDPA-LA organization.

Jorge is also the CEO of Garinet Global Inc. Garinet has established itself as the major Garifuna Network since it launched in 1999. It currently averages over one million hits per month from over one hundred different countries around the world.

Garinet has consistently created services to enhance the future of the Garifuna Community. Through its Garidigital.com website, Garinet offers the general public, a multitude of Website services for organizations, businesses, entertainers and family members.


Mr. Tomas Zuñiga will be speaking about his non-profit organization called Garinagu Empowerment Movement and also about its upcoming Garifuna Street Festival in April 2006.

Tomas Zuñiga, Garinagu Empowerment Movement, President, NACART Vice-President

Tomas Fernando Zuñiga serves as President of Garinagu Empowerment Movement (G.E.M.), a non-profit Garifuna organization in Los Angeles, whose mission is to promote cultural preservation, foster economic development and advocate for the rights of the Garifuna people.  He is also the Vice-president of the National Central American Roundtable Inc. (NACART), an organization comprised of Central American leadership, purposed to improve the quality of life for Central Americans at home and abroad, by defending the civil, human and economic rights of the community through initiatives and development of public policies.

In April of 2001, G.E.M. produced the first Garifuna Day Street Fetival in Los Angeles.  In 2003 the city council officially recognized the festival.  And in 2004, the city declared April 12th as "Garifuna Day" in the City of Los Angeles, "inviting Los Angelenos to welcome the Garifuna community as part of the City's fabric of diversity, which makes Los Angeles one of the greatest cities in the world."



CARLOS DOMINGO ALVAREZ  is a biomedic electronic technician at Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He is also a cultural activist, Wanaragua dancer, drummer and educator.

RONY FIGUEROA, B.S. in Business Administration - Computer Information Systems.  Vice-President & Co-Founder of  GAHFU, Inc., Activist and Entrepreneur. He also serves as Co-Treasurer for AFG (Guatemalan Fraternities Association).



JOSEFINA GREGORIO, President of Hermandad Livingsteña, Garifuna activist & leader.


The Garifuna Community Forum LA 2006 would't be complete without the participation of our cultural groups.






                                                 CHOSEN ONES BAND


GAHFU, Inc. is proud to announce the participation of the one and only Garifuna Cultural Drumming Group LIBAYA BABA:




The First Annual Garifuna Community Forum L.A.  April 16, 2005

Josie Gregorio - Dr. Cadrin E. Gill - Honorable Milton E. Alvarez, Consul General of Guatemala

The first annual garifuna community forum took place in Los Angeles on April 16th 2005.  The purpose of this forum was to address the issues that were affecting the garifuna community then.  There were concerned Garinagu who took part in the speaking panel and who traveled from New York, Florida, San Diego, Riverside and throughout Los Angeles county. 

We were also very fortunate to have guest speakers who represented the Garinagu from St. Vincent, Dr. Cadrin Gill and the Tainos from the Caribbean Island of Boriken - Puerto Rico,  Mr. Hu'acan Vidal.  There was also the honorable Mr. Milton Alvarez representing the Guatemalan Consulate in Los Angeles. We were also honored with the participation of Domingo Alvarez, Melecio Gonzalez, Becky Arzu, Josefina Gregorio, Feline Cayetano, James Lovell, Rolando "Topo" Castillo, Ruben & Jaime Reyes.

James Lovell - Mingo Alvarez



Monday, April 18, 2005

Greetings to all of my Garifuna brothers and sisters!

The First Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2005 was moving, informative, memorable and a complete success. The spirit of Chatuye was with us all. I am currently writing an article about my personal experience at the forum. The article will also summarize the topics of discussions presented by the different guest speakers. So please look forward to that article in the days ahead. Thank you so much for all of your positive words of encouragement and support. I would especially like to thank all of the guest speakers without your dedication and voices this event would not have been spiritually moving and mentally rewarding. I appreciate, respect and admire all of you dearly. Thank you also to all of the attendees who came to listen and support our united forum.


Cheryl & Rony

The First Garifuna Community Forum L.A. 2005 was a total success. Now, read some of the comments that have come to us in the form of e-mails.

Basilio Castillo from Livingston in L.A. wrote:

“Labuga como estas mi hermano? Te felicito ati y a tu esposa por la fuerza que hicieron de unir mi gente. Me gusto y quiero seguir participando en eventos como este. Te felicito especialmente a ti porque no sos garifuna. Y lo que estas haciendo por mi gente, yo siento que si lo sos. Gracias hermano. Quisiera consegir una copia de la grabacion que se hizo. Tambien quiero salir con mi primo Topo hoy. Si es posible, por favor me puedes hablar cuando mires este mensaje. Gracias“

Dear Cheryl,

“Millions of thanks for making this event possible! Although I could
not be there for the entire time, the few moments that I was present, were very profound. I heard many great testimonials from many attendees, including my father, Ruben Reyes. Once again, thanks a million for making it happen!
Kind regards,”
Jorge Garifuna
Garinet Global Inc.

Dear Cheryl & Rony:

“Please allow me to add my congratulations and compliment to the swelling list of individuals who have expressed their satisfaction with last Saturday's Garifuna Community Forum. What I found very fascinating was the diversity, timeliness and appropriateness of the subjects discussed. Each speaker, all in all, did a creditable job and treated his or her respective subject admirably well.

What impressed me most was the fact that the Taino Race and St. Vincent were represented in addition to Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. That was a great beginning and an auspicious reunion. The participation of the audience was admirable. Everyone was attentive and well-behaved.

On a whole the meeting was a success although there is room for improvement. What I found disappointing was the fact that our current Garifuna leaders were absent, as a participant aptly observed. However, the healing has begun and lasting, favorable impressions were made.

Another outstanding feature observable was the amount of work that entered into the preparations made by the co-coordinators and, of course, the quality of the food served. Again, congratulations! Keep up the good work.

The master of ceremonies did a superb job keeping the program moving smoothly and efficiently. Ronny, special congratulations to you!

Humala abiniruni lumagienti Afurugu Gunfuliti.”

Au le
Clifford J. Palacio

Mr. Clifford J. Palacio

To: Cheryl

Dear Sister:

“It was a tremendous honor for myself and the United Confederation of Taino People to have been able to participate in such an auspicious occasion. You and Rony did such a fantastic job in bringing together a group of rich, warm, kind and loving examples of what the Garifuna are all really about. I had learned so much from all of the speakers and representatives and am looking forward to more and more interaction between the Taino and Garifuna. On behalf of the UCTP, I send you and your house all our love and all our blessings. Taino Ti, Huacan Vidal, naboria.”

Honorable Hua'can Vidal

Hello Rony & Cheryl

“Au le Buck, I want to congratulate and thank you both especially and also everyone that made it possible .I know how difficult it is to cater to events like these. The turnout was great and I was very amazed at the participation of our audience. I also found out that a lot us know the many problems we as garinagu are facing but maybe don't know where to turn to start doing something about it. I thought that by joining forces with a certain Garifuna organization that I could do my part towards fixing something, but I am finding out that the problem is so huge. This Forum was a great start for the healing process to begin ,all the speakers impressed me, and I have e-mailed some of them to say thanks .I had mentioned my disappointment that some of our fearless leaders were not present, I had planned to ask some questions about unity .I really do thank you for the wonderful experience, the good food and the wonderful friends and potential new customers for my business. I will spread the positive word about the success of the forum and hopefully those who didn't think it was worth their while to show up will do so next time .Seremien.”
Aban Rasa
Aban Isien

Buck, African Roots On Line

Jeff Bernardez from Libaya Baba wrote:

Ida Biangi Namule
I'd like to congratulate you on the success of the Garifuna forum. We
at Maabatuwa have gotten nothing but positive reviews on the entire
progam. You and yours did a splendid job coordinating and organizing the whole project. I only wish Libaya Baba could have stayed to close the show, but this only the beginning of things to come. It's always a pleasurable experience working with you and yours. Put on your gloves and boots there's a lot more work to do ...Aba Isiene...Libaya Baba

Josefina Gregorio, Hermandad Livingsteña in Los Angeles, wrote:

Hi Cheryl and Rony

“The forum was very informative. Tainos were a surprise to me. Where in the world did you find them? That is a good sign that you did a good job in researching. The food service was good, as you know, I couldn't eat lunch. I was happy to see others eating and it was enough food for everyone. Each presenter was great. On Sunday, I met with two different people, one was a presenter and the other was an observer. They gave good input and comments. It made me happy! I hope to follow up next year and make it much greater. Thanks for the opportunity”

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