Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Descriptions & Meanings Of The Garifuna Flag (with video examples)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides various descriptions of the Garifuna flag. Historical information about the Garinagu (Garifuna people) and information about the meanings that have been attributed to the colors of the Garifuna flag also included in this post along with examples of that flag that are found in five YouTube videos about Garifuna cultures.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copy rights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all who are featured in this post and thanks to all those who are quoted in this post. Thanks also to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

Garifuna People, History and Culture
"The Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people originated with the arrival of West African slaves who washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent around 1635 while likely on their way to New World mines and plantations. Today, the global population of Garifunas stands at upwards of 300,000 people, many of whom live in the U.S. and Canada. Garifuna communities along the Caribbean Sea live mostly in coastal towns and villages in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

A Brief History of the Garifuna People

The West African transplants were either ship-wrecked or escaped from the Caribbean islands of Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada, depending on the source. They intermarried with local populations of Arawaks and Carib Indians (Caribs), immigrants from South America, to become known as Garifunas or Black Caribs.

For a time, the Afro-Caribbean Garifunas lived peacefully alongside French settlers who reached St. Vincent later in the 17th century, until being exiled by British troops in 1796 and eventually shipped off to Roatan, one of the Honduras Bay Islands in the Caribbean Sea. After successfully developing a healthy crop of cassava, a mainstay of traditional Garifuna diets, on Roatan, Garifunas branched out to the Caribbean mainland to establish fishing villages in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. According to one source, the Spanish agreed to transfer the Garifunas from Roatan to Trujillo, Colon on the coastal mainland of Honduras, effectively consolidating their claim on Roatan and the other Honduras Bay Islands and gaining better access to a workforce of Garifuna laborers."...

....The website of the National Garífuna Council of Belize
This flag represents an evolution that commenced with the Carib International Society (CIS) whose flag was made up of horizontal strips of red, yellow and black. Red (funati) stood for the blood of the Garifuna, black (würiti) the skin of the Garifuna and yellow (dumari) the food of the Garifuna. T.V. Ramos added the strip of white (haruti) in the middle, substituting it for the red, when he formed the Carib Development Society (CDS). Carib International Society, as the name implies, was international in scope and its development appears to have been facilitated by the convergence of Garinagu from the various countries in places like Puerto Barrios where they flocked in search of employment with the United Fruit Company. The area of operations of the Carib Development Society, on the other hand, was limited to Belize although the influence of its initiatives spread far beyond the borders of Belize and laid the foundation for the later emergence of its successor, the National Garifuna Council."

The author of the notice gives an interpretation of the colours, stating that there are no written source for that.
"What is the significance of the colours of the Garifuna flag? This question has been asked quite frequently and some attempts have been made to answer it although I am not aware of any written explanation. I will now try to piece together what I have heard, with the hope that this will evoke some reaction that can contribute to a full and complete documentation of the significance of the colours. It should also be noted that it is people who give meaning to symbols. We, therefore, have the option of expanding on whatever meanings have been handed down to us by the originators of the CIS and CDS flags.

Black - The black strip, which is located at the top, represents the black ancestry of the Garifuna people. The people have always acknowledged the African input into what became the Garifuna people, a phenomenon that occurred in St. Vincent starting in the seventeenth Century.

This colour, at another level, recognizes the hardships and injustices that the people have had to endure, their struggles for survival and the odds that they have had to overcome in the course of their history. Apart from the experience of the Middle Passage, which we share with other black people of the Americas, there was the imprisonment on Balliceaux, the exile from our Vincentian homeland after the so called Carib Wars and the replay of the Middle Passage in the form of the mass forced relocation to Central America...

Yellow - The yellow strip at the bottom of the flag symbolizes the other half of the ancestry of the Garifuna – the Amerindians or Yellow Caribs as they were referred to by Europeans. These were actually a mixture of Caribs and Arawaks and formed the host community in which the fusion of Africa and South America took place to give rise to the emergence of the Garinagu as a distinct group indigenous to the circum-Caribbean region.

In contrast to the hardships experienced in the course of history, the yellow symbolizes the hope and prosperity... Yellow is also the colour of the rising sun, which brings new promise and much hope for a better life. Yellow, therefore, represents hope, plenty and prosperity, as well as the Carib/Arawak input into the Garifuna identity.

White - The white strip, located in the middle between the black and the yellow, reminds us of the role of the white man (Europe) in the history and formation of the Garifuna people – the forcible removal and enslavement of the African, the seizure of Garifuna land, which precipitated the Garifuna resistance, and the forcible removal of the people from St. Vincent. Even after the arrival and dispersal in Central America, it was still necessary to deal with the white man.

At another level, white symbolizes the peace that has eluded the Garifuna people for most of their turbulent history - the peace for which they continue to yearn."

Finally, the author of the notice mentions a flag proposal: "It would be remiss of me not to mention an attempt made by Ruben Reyes to propose a flag for the Garifuna Nation. The colours are essentially the same. He also proposes a logo set in a shield in the center. I believe that it is a good effort and that the various country Garifuna organizations should respond to him with a view to its possible adoption." Ruben Reyes' proposal is for sale at the Internet store of Garinet.

We show in this page, two flags with the black stripe either on top or on bottom. As stated by the author of the notice, both combinations exist: "The relative position of the colours needs to be clarified or agreed. It is clear that the white strip is always in the middle. The problem is with the black and yellow. I have referred to the black as being on top partly because of the location on the samples I looked at when I was writing this and partly because the colours have always been referred to as “black, white and yellow” and we normally start at the top. However, I have since seen some examples in which the black is at the bottom, including the proposal from my cousin, Ruben Reyes."...
The following excerpt is also from that same web page:
"Report at the National Geographic
Reading the September 2001 issue of National Geographic I reached the article about the Garífuna. One of the pictures shows a partially hidden triband paste to a greenboard with the written title "The Garifuna Flag". It is a black-white- light gold triband in that particular order. The flag at top is exactly the inverse. Beside each band it reads:
black band - "death and suffer"
white band - "peace"
gold band - "hope in Belize"
Blas Delgado Ortiz, 6 September 2001

From Belize Photo of the Day: The Belize and Garifuna Flag in Dangriga
...”The Garifuna flag is very colorful and each shade has a special meaning. The yellow represents the sun, the white represents peace, and black represents the color of their people.”
That page shows a photo of Garifuna flag - equal horizontal strips of yellow white and black (in that order, from top to bottom).

Here's information about the city of Dangriga, Belize from Dangriga
"Dangriga, formerly known as Stann Creek Town, is a town in southern Belize, located on the Caribbean coast at the mouth of the North Stann Creek River. It is the capital of Belize's Stann Creek District. Dangriga is served by the Dangriga Airport. Commonly known as the "culture capital of Belize" due to its influence on punta music and other forms of Garifuna culture, Dangriga is the largest settlement in southern Belize.

Dangriga was settled before 1832 by Garinagu (Black Caribs, as they were known to the British) from Honduras. For years it was the second largest population centre in the country behind Belize City, but in recent years has been surpassed by San Ignacio, Belmopan and Orange Walk Town. Since the early 1980s Garífuna culture has undergone a revival, as part of which the town's name of Dangriga, a Garífuna word meaning "standing waters", became more widely used (but was initially adopted around 1975)."

"Buiti Achülürüni - Bienvenido - Welcome!
Welcome to the website of the Garifuna American Heritage Foundation United. Here you can find out more about our organization, our events and our services.

The mission of GAHFU is to serve the Garifuna-American community in the greater Los Angeles area, the Untied States and abroad through cultural programs, outreach, advocacy and social services programs. GAHFU is dedicated to the dissemination and preservation of Garifuna heritage through the arts, music, culture and language education, in addition to providing social & cultural awareness programs such as youth mentoring/leadership, Garifuna classes, cultural competency and enrichment programs, community forums, and more. GAHFU believes that having an appreciation of one’s own culture sets the stage for developing partnership with people who come from culturally diverse backgrounds. GAHFU serves a nation that reaches across the globe annually and seeks to educate and inform the larger Los Angeles County about Garifuna culture and the contributions that Garifuna-Americans have made and continue to make in the social and cultural fabric in Central, North America and the Caribbean...

The meaning of the colors of the Garifuna flag are: The Yellow is for our Amerindian heritage,hope and liberation. The white is for the peace and freedom. The black is for Africa, death and suffering."
The drawing above the section of this web page labeled "Garifuna Flag" shows a flag with yellow, white, and black strips (in that order from top to bottom). The flag at the top of this website’s page has yellow, white, and black strips with the acronym GAHFU written in black in the middle of the yellow strip, and a black clenched fist (the black power symbol) in the middle of the flag (placed in each of the three strips.)

These examples are given in chronological order according to their publishing dates on YouTube with the oldest dated example given first. The nation where the video was taken is given in brackets after the video's title.

Example #1: Garifuna Danasty video clip,Wyclef Labor Day 08 [United States]

Garifunaa Dynastyy, Uploaded on Jan 18, 2009

Garifuna flag @ Labor Day 2008 Brooklyn
This video clip shows scenes from the annual Caribbean day parade in New York City. In these scenes paraders and the crowd are waving flags from their respective Caribbean nations. The black, white, and yellow Garifuna flag is shown starting at 2:06 of this video.

Example #2: Dia de Garifuna Livingston Guatemala [Guatemala]

GarifunaFiles, Uploaded on Sep 1, 2010

Dia de Garifuna Livingston Guatemala
Garifuna Day in Livingston Guatemala
The Garifuna flag shown beginning at 1:34 of this video has yellow, white, and black strips in that order.

Example #3: Garifuna Settlement Day YURUME Nov 19 "DANGRIGA BELIZE" [Belize]

Caribbean SEE, Published on Nov 20, 2012

"Wátina (I Called Out)" by Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective
Garifuna flags shown at the beginning of this video [at .50] have black, white, and yellow strips in that order.

Example #4: Garifuna Settlement Day 2012 [Belize]

7News Belize, Published on Nov 22, 2012

"Ámuñegü (In Times to Come)" by Andy Palacio & the Garifuna Collective
The Garifuna flag shown at the beginning of this video [.20] has
yellow, white, and black strips in that order.

Example #5: Belize Cultural Celebrations Series Vol. 1: Garifuna Settlement Day (Yurumein) [Belize]


Institute for Social and Cultural Research (NICH), Published on Nov 18, 2014

The Belize Cultural Celebrations Series comprises of educational posters and short videos produced by the National Institute of Culture and History through the Institute for Social and Cultural Research. Yurumein is the first in the series, featuring images, video footage and interviews that were collected by a team of cultural activists. The materials were gathered from the communities of Libertad, Belize City, Hopkins, Dangriga and Punta Gorda on November 19th, 2013.
Among the other Garifuna flags shown in this video, there's a flag shown at 5:52 with black, white, and yellow strips in that order with an emblem drawn in the white strip.

Also notice the male speaker wearing a West African styled hat, shirt, and pants set in the Garifuna colors of black, white, and yellow.

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