Tag: Dangriga

The Soundtrack of Life

Posted By : Tropic Air/ 1268

For Andy Palacio, one of Belize’s most loved and famous musicians, music was “the soundtrack of life”.

The late Andy Palacio in concert at Y-Not Island, Dangriga. ©JCCUELLAR.COM
The late Andy Palacio in concert at Y-Not Island, Dangriga. ©JCCUELLAR.COM

Perhaps the most beautiful demonstration of this statement can be found in the music of his people, the Garinagu, one of the many cultures that make up the melting pot that is Belize. Product of the indigenous Arawaks of South America and shipwreck prisoners destined for slavery, the Garinagu claim St. Vincent as their homeland.  Forceful exodus from the Caribbean lead to Central American settlements in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize..  Throughout migratory pathways, the Garinagu have continued  to use music in daily life and work to retell their story from elder to younger generation, to diminish the boredom of everyday chores, to accompany sacred rituals that maintain intergenerational bonds and to recreate a sense of shared identity despite borders.

The main instrument used in Garifuna music that requires musical accompaniment is the drum.  Traditionally these drums were made from a hollowed out trunk of hardwood, covered with animal skin usually a deer, peccary or sheep which was stretched over the trunk and tightened with rope and wooden pegs and they were always played solely with the hands.  Today the design is very much the same, although the hollowing out is normally done with a machine rather than by hand.  In the majority of everyday secular music, two drums are involved.  The main and largest drum provides the bass and is known as the Segundo. Its namesake drummer provides the regular beat.  The Primero drum is usually smaller and its player uses a more complicated pattern of beats and is considered the more skilled musician.  In Garifuna rituals a third larger drum is used with the central instrument, the Lanigi Garawoun (the heart drum) providing the lead for the other two drummers.

Primero and Segundo Drums. ©JCCUELLAR.COM
Primero and Segundo Drums. ©JCCUELLAR.COM

For social occasions, one of the most popular music genres and dances of the Garifuna is the Punta.  This was traditionally a dance performed by men and women representing a dialogue between the two sexes performed at social gatherings and wakes.  The drums and rattles  accompanied the narrative text written mostly by women provides comment on the many challenges of  life.  Traditionally families socialized together and young people would be under strict supervision.  The Punta was a way through which couples communicated interest in each other without alarming the audience or creating suspicion.  Today couples doing the Punta try to outdo each other with complicated movements of the feet that sway the rest of the body, producing an impression of moving hips and bottoms. Other dances such as the Chumba, Gunjei, Wanaragua, Paranda and Hüngü Hüngü are often played in social settings.

This traditional Punta music has evolved into one of the most popular and ubiquitous style of music in Belize: Punta Rock.  The artist Pen Cayetano is largely regarded as the originator of this genre of music during the 1980s.  It is a faster version of traditional Punta with the addition of electric instruments such as drum, bass guitar and synthesizer and the dance accompanying it is every bit as provocative as the original. Today one of the most popular Punta artists is Supa G.

Pen Cayetano. ©JCCUELLAR.COM
Pen Cayetano. ©JCCUELLAR.COM

Paranda is another example of how the music has evolved over the years as the Garifuna have assimilated other musical influences from their surroundings.  A gentler genre of music and dance traditionally performed by the Garifuna men, Paranda songs were used as serenades in which a group of guitar-toting performers would to from house to house in their communities performing their compositions. The singing providing the narrative accompaniment is very much the call and response, leader and chorus arrangement that is typical of some music of the Garifuna and talks about what is happening in the singers’ lives. Though the musical form is known to have been around since the early 1900s, it wasn’t until 2007 when Andy Palacio elevated Paranda to international fame with his acclaimed CD, “Watina”.  After his unexpected death,  the Garifuna collective, the group with which Andy had toured to promote Watina, continued to build on his legacy,  creating a reputation for this more soulful exploration of Garifuna music.

The Wanaragua provides yet another “soundtrack to life”.  Otherwise known as the Jonkonnu or John Canoe,  the traditional dance is thought to have been created or adopted on the island of St. Vincent.  Similar dances created by the slaves were performed on special occasions around Christmas; however, oral history refers to Wanaragua dancers using a guise lo lure European colonizers into Garifuna communities during the wars they fought on the island of St. Vincent in the 17th century.  Today the dance is usually performed between  Christmas Day and Día Rey, January 6th or the feast of the epiphany.  Accompanied by drumming, performers dress up in  pink masks as a mocking representative of Europeans  and dance from house to house for a small monetary token.

Wanaragua Dancer in Dangriga. ©JCCUELLAR.COM
Wanaragua Dancer in Dangriga. ©JCCUELLAR.COM

Whilst the majority of Garinagu are located in the Stann Creek district around Dangriga and Hopkins and in Barranco in the Toledo district, any visitor to Belize is sure to encounter one of the above genres of music and dance particularly around November as they celebrate the uniqueness of their culture and soundtrack of their life.

Want to experience the sounds and sights of the Garifuna culture? Then book your flight with Tropic Air and take a trip this November 19th to beautiful Dangriga.

TROPIC AIR GIVES BACK TO DANGRIGA RED CROSS

Posted By : Tropic Air/ 535

PRESS RELEASE

Dangriga, Stann Creek, Belize
Monday, February 8th, 2016

Tropic Air, The Airline of Belize, has announced the first month’s results of its 2016 nationwide #TropicGivesBack charitable fundraising campaign. For every ticket bought at the month’s selected station, $1 will be donated to an organization chosen by our staff stationed in that community. January was the chosen month for Dangriga, with Caye Caulker for February, and Belmopan for March.

As part of the airline’s largest charitable fundraiser of the year, Tropic Air business partners, staff and Customers joined efforts and raised $500 for the Dangriga Red Cross. A check was presented to the organization on Thursday, February 4th.

“Every year, our staff and customers, come together to raise much needed funds for a variety of charities with the joint goal of making a lasting impact,” said John Greif III, Tropic Air’s president. “We also encourage our customers to join in giving to the causes that they are passionate about”, he went on to say.

“Through the #TropicGivesBack Donation program, we are honored and privileged to support the work of the Dangriga Red Cross, and we couldn’t think of a better way to contribute to their efforts in the community,” said Steve Schulte, Tropic Air CEO.

“We thank our Employees for giving their time to volunteer around Belize, and we thank our Customers for the wonderful response to this program, which made the donation possible.”

About Tropic Air
Founded in 1979 by John Greif III with just a single airplane and two employees, Tropic has steadily grown to become the largest and most experienced airline in Belize. It now employs over 300 staff, offers over 200 daily scheduled flights to 18 desitnations in Belize, Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala.

Tropic believes in giving back. It supports the development of the communities its serves through health, sports, drug prevention, education and community projects. Tropic also supports the development and growth of the wider tourism industry of Belize through promotional initiatives locally and internationally.

About the Red Cross (Dangriga)
The Belize Red Cross Society, with 7 branches countrywide including Dangriga, is one of 189 members of the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, (IFRC), the world’s largest humanitarian organization.  The Red Cross Movement became present in Belize in 1914. This movement became and operated as a branch of the British Red Cross in Belize until 1983 when, through an Act of Incorporation, it became the Belize Red Cross, a National Society in its own rights. In 1984 the Belize Red Cross was recognized as a member of the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies. In 1983, Belize Red Cross opened doors in Dangriga Town to serve the Stann Creek District.

Their work focuses in the areas of Community Resilience (disaster management & preparedness, response and recovery); and Disaster Risk Reduction and mitigation; HIV & AIDS prevention through Peer Education (TWC Program); Violence Prevention and Youth development;  First Aid & prevention of communicable diseases, Social Assistance (feeding programs, assistance to fire victims, wheelchair distribution) and dissemination of their 7 Fundamental Principles and Humanitarian Values. This work is carried out through recruitment, training and deployment of Volunteers, the greatest assets of the organization.

-end-

November in Belize

Posted By : Tropic Air/ 549

Belize is a country of celebrations or jump ups as we call them and Belizeans love to party. Most months of the year have at least one holiday or anniversary commemorating or celebrating something of national significance.  In November, all of Belize celebrates Garifuna Settlement Day on the 19th of the month.  This holiday commenced in 1943 in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts of the country and in 1977 it became a national Holiday throughout Belize.

The Garinagu (plural of Garifuna) or Black Caribs first arrived in Belize, then British Honduras on November 19, 1802. They were the descendants of Carib Indians and Black Africans from St Vincent.  According to history, they arrived in dug out canoes or dories and the re- enactment, called Yurumei, has become part of the Garifuna cultural ritual that occurs every morning on November 19th.

JC_IMG_6651

Belize has Garifuna communities living throughout Belize with approximately 15,000 people making up 7% of the population. The highest concentration can be found in the Stann Creek district and in particular Dangriga.  The word Dangriga is from the Garifuna language meaning “sweet water”. Here the celebration lasts all week with parades, drumming, live music, dancing and much fun.  The women and men dress in their traditional and colorful clothes and a Miss Garifuna pageant is held where young ladies showcase their knowledge of traditional dancing and language. In nearby Hopkins, traditionally a small fishing village, the children still learn and speak the Garifuna language .

HudutInTheCity

The Garifuna culture is a strong and proud one.  They have their own yellow, white and black flag symbolizing the sun, peace and the people.  The food is also different from the ubiquitous rice and beans with Hudut, bundiga and cassava bread being just some of the delicacies to be found.

Let Tropic Air fly you to experience the Garifuna culture.