The ancestors of the Garifuna people took a long, winding, and often tragic path from Africa to the Caribbean, but their sons and daughters have since found a home for themselves in Belize and earned recognition as having a critical role to play in the art, culture, and history of this Caribbean country. The Gulisi Garifuna Museum explores the complicated and diverse history of the Garifuna people, and it’s worth a visit for anyone stopping through Dangriga Town.
A Tribute to the Mother of the Garifuna
The Gulisi that the museum is named after is widely recognized as one of the most important founders of the Garifuna presence in Belize. This mother of 13 who migrated to Belize played a critical role in the formation of a cultural homeland, and she founded the Punta Negra region. But she’s just one link in a chain that goes all the way back to Africa. The Gulisi Garifuna museum frames this important woman in the larger context of the Middle Passage and the long struggle for African slaves to win their independence and discover a place where they could live independent of colonialism.
A Tribute to Civil Rights
Given the role that he had to play in the rights of the Garifuna people and Belizeans at large, it makes sense that Thomas Vincent Ramos features prominently in the museum’s exhibits. As a school teacher from Honduras, Ramos recognized the deplorable healthcare and sanitation issues for the Garifuna living in Stann Creek, and that was the start of a civil rights legacy that would change Belize for the better. It was thanks to Ramos’ political influence and relentless activism that Garifuna Settlement Day was officially recognized as a national holiday. As a contemporary of civil rights icons like Marcus Garvey, it’s important that Ramos’ legacy lives on at exhibits like those offered at Gulisi Garifuna Museum.
A Tribute to an Entire Way of Life
While slavery and prejudice have major roles to play in the history of the Garifuna people, their culture encompasses a lot more than just a history of suffering. It can be seen reflected in Garifuna musical genres like paranda and punta and in the work of contemporary artists like Pen Cayetano. Belize’s culture is a melting pot of different groups, but the Garifuna have their own unique role to play in this region’s cultural tapestry. The Gulisi Garifuna Museum embraces the circumstances that made these people who they are today — and in doing so, it also tells the story of Belize’s recent past.
If you are interested in exploring the Gulisi Garifuna Museum, please contact Uncharted Jewel Belize. Located in Southern Belize, Uncharted offers ground transportation from Belize City to Dangriga as well as tours and excursions to the top attractions in the country.