May is Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month

Garifuna playing the conch shell trumpet, the only wind instrument used today in Garifuna traditional music.The Garifuna, descendants of Carib, Arawak, and West African people. The Garifuna music was proclaimed by UNESCO one of the masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2001.
Kike Calvo via Associated Press

The Bronx-based Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. says it is celebrating Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month in New York City during the month of May in honor of the 17th anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) proclamation of the Garifuna Language, Dance and Music as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, on May 18, 2001.”

“During Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month, we will recall the known and unknown artists who helped create this Garifuna Arts & Culture history,” said the group in a statement. “Their contributions help illuminate the human experience and spirit, and they help us reflect on our City’s ongoing narrative.”

It said the Garifuna Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage has “enriched New York City’s cultural landscape since 1823, when William Henry Brown recognized as the first American playwright of African descent wrote ‘The Drama of King Shotaway’ a play which is recognized as the first black drama of the American Theatre.”

The play had as its subject the 1795 Black Caribs (Garifunas) defense of the island of St. Vincent against colonization, led by Paramount Garifuna Chief Joseph Chatoyer, the Garifuna Coalition, USA, Inc. said.

“During Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month we will honor this rich heritage,” it said. “This legacy tells a story of ingenuity and faith.

“Amidst the injustice of their forced deportation from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Garifunas lifted their voices to the heavens through traditional songs, such as ‘Yurumein,’ which have transmitted the beliefs that have guided the life of the Garifuna for generations,” it added.

Throughout the month of May, Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. said it will be exploring Garifuna Arts & Culture from “the legends who set the foundation to the artists of the future.”

“We will examine all through articles, photo galleries, timelines, videos and more,” it said.

The public is invited to celebrate Garifuna Arts and Culture at the following, among other, events: New York Launch of Vincy Mas 2018 – Saturday, May 5, 10 am – 6 pm, Friends of Crown Heights Day Care Center, 671 Prospect Pl Brooklyn, New York 11216; Abrazo Garifuna Friday May 11; Paranda Concert — Saturday, May 12, 3:00 pm – 7 pm, 977 Fox St., Bronx, New York 10459, information: (646) 714-1222 (757) 701-6940; 8th Annual Garifuna-American Legislative Day in Albany — Tuesday, May 15, 6:30 am – 9 pm; Wanaragua Contest & Festival Saturday, May 26; and Garifuna Cultural Concert Saturday, May 26, featuring Budari Dance Company & Libana Maraza Academia Rafael Hernandez, 977 Fox St., Bronx, New York 10459.

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