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Oct 23, 2014

Paranda King Paul Nabor Passes

Paul Nabor

Belize has lost one of its greatest musicians.  Paul Nabor passed away quietly on Wednesday night in Punta Gorda after suffering from three strokes. The eighty-six-year-old legend had been ailing for some time, but the sad news of his death spread across Belize quickly. Nabi, as he was called, is recognized for putting Paranda music at the centre of the Garifuna culture and, like the deceased Andy Palacio, he worked tirelessly through his music to promote the history and preservation of Garifuna culture. The government has announced that it is extending an official funeral for the iconic Nabi. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Preeminent Belizean musician Paul Nabor is dead.  The celebrated Garifuna singer and guitarist passed away at the Punta Gorda Hospital on Wednesday evening, following a third bout of stroke earlier this month.  Eighty-six-year-old Alfonso Palacio, the name given to him at birth, is a legendary Parandero who has traveled the world over as one of Belize’s finest cultural ambassadors.


Yasser Musa, Former President, NICH

Yasser Musa

“Two powerful images stick with me of Paul Nabor.  One is an image of him, I think it was, I want to say Indonesia in a concert where he with his big hat was in front of thousands of people and I felt that we had arrived at a special place in terms of what he had done, his contribution because he was a Parandero, a Paranda master and his whole life was spent with community music.”


To appreciate Nabi, as he is lovingly referred to by those closest to him, one has to understand his craft, his place in Garifunaduou, as well as the pantheon of Belizean musicians.  As an expert in the oral tradition, a renowned griot, many of his compositions are drawn from everyday experiences.


Darius Avila

Darius Avila, President, Battle of the Drums Secretariat

“He is a spiritual leader in our community and so in terms of Garifuna spirituality he has contributed significantly in that regard being a spiritual leader.  I would from time to time visit with him at his dabuyaba where he would give stories about his youth and, you know, his trials and tribulations and some fun things and some sad things that he would always be giving stories about.”


Paul Nabor was one of three Belizean musicians, including Wilfred Peters and Florencio Mes, to be crowned kings of their respective genres.  His coronation as the monarch of Paranda music, by cultural icon Andy Palacio, is fondly remembered by former president of the National Institute of Culture and History Yasser Musa.


Yasser Musa

“The strongest memory I have is when he performed with Andy Palacio on that stage when Andy held up his hand and it really galvanized in my mind how important it is for us to recognize the past, in terms of the contributions that people have made and also acknowledging the present.  In my view, Andy was the present.  He was a kind of the force of the past that Andy was standing on, that’s the image that I had.  And so today, we can reflect and look back at that and realize that that is just the beginning that Paul Nabor is a lesson to all of us that our cultural mind, our cultural spirit is what really identifies us as Belizeans.”


That spirit is the embodiment of Nabor’s magnum opus, a heart wrenching guitar ballad called Naguya Nei, I Am Moving On.  The aptly titled song speaks to his death and the band of fellow musicians that will accompany his funeral procession.


Linda Barrow

Linda Barrow, Caregiver

“He was doing pretty good until October twelfth at midday, that’s when he fell ill with the third attack of stroke.  From that when he was hospitalized until the twentieth of October he was released and he came home not in a good condition because he was still, you know, weak and so forth.  He was not eating, he didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to take his medication which we forced him and he did.  Until yesterday evening, a quarter to six, that’s when he fell ill again and he wasn’t responding and we saw that he was deteriorating.  We rushed him straight to the hospital and there in the in the A&E he gave his last breath.”


A final lungful bringing to an end a life well-lived.  While his life, to many, was an open book the origin of the stage name Paul Nabor remains a mystery.


Darius Avila

“From the time I was growing up he was known as Paul Nabor.  Maybe somebody else could speak to how he acquired that name but clearly it was even before he went on a big stage.  He was known as Paul Nabor from ever since I was growing up.  He obviously loved that name and everybody recognize him as that.  As a matter of fact, a lot of people don’t know him as Alfonso Palacio.  It was when I started to get close to him then I asked him, “So uncle, what is your real name?” And then he told me well you know, my real name is Alfonso Palacio.”


Arrangements for his official funeral are presently underway.


Darius Avila

“We are awaiting the arrival of his only child, his daughter who should be arriving here in PG on Friday, tomorrow Friday, October 24th.  Upon her arrival then the plans will flow but we have already been approached by the Government of Belize because they want to offer a state funeral and we have also been approached by NICH because they want us to offer a tribute where we will invite paranderos from all across the country.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Paul Nabor, dead at eighty-six. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Paranda King Paul Nabor Passes”

  1. sly deceiver says:

    Belize has lost a music legend:-(

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