Garifuna Settlement Day History
Garifuna Settlement Day is a day in Garinagu history my family celebrated each and every year. Every Belizean family does. We are a close-knit community that thrives on our sense of identification, families and unity. When we get together it's a time when we can eat great food, dance and demonstrate our love for one another. As a community we are very proud of our history and feel blessed to be in tune with our distinct link to Africa.
As Belizeans, we've had the unique ability to celebrate who we are. We are able to hold our heads high with pride because we gained our independence from British rule.
Great Britain first sent an official to the area in the late 17th century, but Belize was not formally termed the "Colony of British Honduras" until 1840. It became a crown colony in 1862. Subsequently, several constitutional changes were enacted to expand representative government. Full internal self-government under a ministerial system was granted in January 1964. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973, and full independence was granted on September 21, 1981.
My Great Great Grandmother Ms. Emelda Borden
My Grandmother Cyrilia Francisco -Chambers
As Belizeans we love our brothers and sisters who are African American. We empathize with the plight of our people within this country. Our history here has been stripped and there is no great sense of Cultural identification to their African heritage. We are blessed beyond measure to have been able to preserve ours. This understanding of who we are has instilled in us a deep sense of National pride that does not include the poisons of slavery and oppression. It allows us to have a great sense of family and community that is bleak in the United States.
Its something we experience very intimately with our African American brothers and sisters, but we have the unique opportunity to see their experience from the outside looking in. When we are experiencing it with them there is the ability to understand that this is a poison within their culture that has rotted their sense of who they are. The atrocities that have plagued the African American community is a stark contrast from what our families experienced during their upbringing. We have our faults and deficiencies but they do not include oppression.
Oppression has a way of eating away at your spirit. It is something unavoidable when you live in a culture that breeds the mentality that certain people (who happen to biologically just have more melanin) are somehow less than worthy of being treated just like any other human being. This thought process is absolutely imaginary. Its like discriminating against people with brown eyes vs blue eyes. We can all acknowledge that to discriminate that way would be ridiculous but its exactly the same.
Education is one of the most important aspects of Belizean culture. The literacy rate in Belize is 76.9% compared to the literacy rate in the United States which is just 21% (for adults) and 19% for High school graduates according to The US Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. This contrast in the belief in education is one of the reasons why the African American Community lags behind. Its extremely important to use our energy to help the community understand that the way to gain power in the land is to use the power of intelligence to enlighten those around you of the grave mistake they have made in their own understanding about the black man and woman.
People will only do to you what you allow them to. The new thought process needs to be....not to allow it, not to give that misperception life or power. If that message can be embedded in the spirit of every African American living then the idea that somehow the African American is less than will vanish.
My dad Huedney Dennis Brooks in the army
My mom and dad on their wedding day in Belize
Uncle Jeremy (RIP) and my mom Marion Brooks
My brother's 8th Bithday party
My daughter Kennedy, myself and Lil Andre
one of many of our family parties
My Aunt Vee (RIP) I love and miss her so much!