By Angel Nuñez
I have just learned at the 2013 Official Garifuna Celebration, which I thoroughly enjoyed, that there are 350 Garinagu living in San Pedro. Could that be true? I would have estimated about 100 Garinagu living in La Isla Bonita. That would be a good social studies class project of a school to carry out a census of how many Mestizos, Creoles, Garinagu, ex-pats and other large ethnic groups we have living in San Pedro.
Long ago I learned from older folks that Caribs were, first of all, noisy people; this was due perhaps to their loud singing and beating of drums. Whenever we the children used to make noise, our parents would tell us that we sounded like Caribs as they were called back then. We also learned that they were great fish eaters and could eat bony fish without prior picking out the bones. We were also told that they were hard working and perhaps the most honest people in Belize. Creoles at the time, had a different image, while Caribs had the fame as honest people.
Anyway, Twenty Five Years Ago would like to give you a brief outlook on how the Garinagu arrived not to Belize but to San Pedro. Back in the 1950’s there were hardly any creoles nor Caribs living in San Pedro. It was a purely Mestizo community, with the exception of the Blakes and the Parhams who had British roots and the Alamilla family that had Spanish roots.
Perhaps the first Carib that came to San Pedro was a teacher who was placed as principal of the Roman Catholic School. We can all recall principals like Mr. Agustine, and Mrs. Palacio, who were stationed here for many years. They gave us some of the hardest and most meaningful whippings since they were strict disciplinarians.
Then from time to time a Carib policeman used to be stationed in San Pedro too. A lot of people remember P.C. Sambula, who swore that he was going to fix up all Sanpedranos, when there was nothing wrong with them except that they liked to assemble at the park near the police station to drink in their merry-making.
The next Caribs to come to the island were a few carpenters as was this very nice guy that lived at the Bishop’s house for many years and I apologize that we never learned his real name. Everyone called him Cockhead. He certainly did not look like a cock but that was the Sanpedranos official name for him.
After that came a few Caribs who worked as janitors and watchmen for a few private homes like Mr. Zapata and Lino. They were some of the early Caribs to San Pedro, and we mourned when Zapata left the island for Honduras where he lost his life in Hurricane Mitch.
From then on Caribs (now called Garinagu) have been embraced in San Pedro unlike their ancestors who were rejected three times by the Governor of Belize when they approached the shores of Stan Creek in 1802, some 211 years ago. San Pedro has offered them jobs and safety and a stable home. The Garifuna community has grown very much and they have adapted in San Pedro as businessmen, carpenters, teachers, students, musicians, entertainers, and in the tourism field. There are many born Garinagu in San Pedro including a past deputy mayor. Caribs have intermarried Creoles, Mestizos, and even white foreigners. Twenty Five Years Ago salutes all Garinagu and opens its arms of friendship. Nuff respect to all Garifunas.
25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Pampered Paws -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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