Garifuna people

The Garifuna are an ethnic group currently has more than 100,000 members in Central America and the United States. It emerged from a merger of slaves with West African origin Caribs, which took place from the 17th century on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent.

The name means, in the language of the Garifuna originally " Yamsesser ". The correct plural form is actually Garinagu.

Origin and History

The merger of the two populations probably had its beginning in 1635, as at St. Vincent two slave ships were shipwrecked. The Africans were able to escape, were of the Inselkariben ( Kalipona ) was added and mingled with them. The Caribs were previously merged itself with the subject of them once Arawak.

The further history of the ancestors of the Garifuna in St. Vincent was dominated by the Anglo-French rivalry in the Caribbean and especially of the slave economy: The Garifuna, who did not last managed due to the French- English competition again and again to maintain their independence, and the largely lived peacefully with the French settlers were (on sugar cane plantations) regarded with suspicion after the final British occupation of the island in 1795 and the consequent spread of slavery from the colonial masters and new colonists, as they led an example of free black before his eyes. Armed conflicts between the British on one side and Garifuna and French on the other ( Karibenkrieg ) ended in 1796 with the perfect defeat of Garifuna and French. The Garifuna were defeated - initially deported to the nearby island Baliceaux, where more than 50 % of the prisoners died - along with some rebellious slaves. Therefore 1797 2248 " black Caribs " (Black Caribs ) were resettled by the British of Baliceaux on the island Roatan before the Honduran coast on 20 February. From here, the Garifuna spread in the Bay Islands. About 1832 emigrated many Garifuna from Belize.


Their language, Igneri, belongs to the indigenous American Arawak language family and is in the vocabulary of indigenous Caribbean, French and English as well as in more recent times regionally and Spanish influences. The isolated African influences in Igneri come closest to the Yoruba in southwestern Nigeria. The religious- cultural tradition is predominantly (West ) African.

Caribbean origin are in addition to the language apparently specific dance forms such as the circle dance and become part of the Punta dance, certain announcements and individual ritual practices that can still be found in certain Amazonian tribes in similar form today. Other religious customs and traditions as well as the Parranda music show close relationship with ancient West African cults and practices ( the Yoruba, the Mandé, or Ashanti ). The anthropological debates on the origin of individual traditions are nevertheless still in flux and are sometimes subject to the fluctuating interest, a rather old African (ie imported ) or a more ancient Indian (ie autochthonous ) to postulate origin.

Language, Dance and Music of the Garifuna was recognized by UNESCO in 2001 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

Current situation

The more than 100,000 Garifuna live in Belize, where they account for up to 7 % of the population in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua majority as a fisherman on the coast as well as workers in banana cultivation. Many Garifuna also live as immigrants in the United States, primarily in the city of New York. In recent years, the culture of the Garifuna is also discovered more and more of the tourism industry. Today's Garifuna speak Igneri and, depending on the country, English or Spanish.

To the representation (also) the interests of the Garifuna endeavor loud especially the following organizations:

  • ODECO ( Organización de Desarrollo ETNICO Comunitario )
  • OFRANEH ( Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña )
  • Oneca ( Organización Negra Centroamericana / Central American Black Organization)