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Dance, music and language: Cultural gathering commemorates Garifuna nation

By Callan Burzynski
Jambalaya News

Last weekend, Hondurans celebrated their country's African heritage with a commemoration of the 214th year of the Garifuna nation in Honduras and other parts of Central America.

The event, held at Gari Mix bar in New Orleans East, incorporated music, dance, food and history. It was hosted by Bernardo Guerrero, co-founder and vice president of the community agribusiness Lemenigi Lomba, accompanied by Anrulfo Lacayo.

The presentation took the form of chats or short lectures given between musical performances. Present to support the event were local Honduran Consul Elka Herrera, community leader Lucas Díaz, and Director of Social Services for Oportunidades NOLA, Jamie McDaniel.

Themes focused on the history of the Garifuna nation, its language, political, social and economic progress and obstacles, and, above all, the importance of preserving culture.

Guerrero and Lacayo cited language as a vehicle for maintaining culture. Lacayo told of his experiences growing up in Honduras, when the Garifuna language was still prohibited in schools. “Today,” declared Guerrero, “the Garifuna language is being taught on a national level.” At the presentation, songs were sung in the Garifuna tongue, and the presenters frequently integrated Garifuna expressions in their speeches.

“Still,” said Lacayo, “there are many words we are losing.”

During the event, Guerrero announced the inauguration of the first national museum of the Garifuna, which opened the same day in California. In the transcendental works of Lacayo, “From where we came, there we go.”