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Apr 12, 2016

NGC Responds to Comments on Garifuna Spirituality

Jerris Valentine

The firestorm that erupted in the wake of inflammatory comments made by Pastor Scott Stirm about Garifuna spirituality has since died down.  However, the issue is very much alive within the wider Belizean community.  This morning, at a press conference held to commemorate the anniversary of the two hundred and nineteenth arrival of the Garinagu to Belizean shores, Father Jerris Valentine, a well-known Garifuna activist commented on the issue.


Father Jerris Valentine, Garifuna Elder

“First of all, let me just say [that] I am not going into a back and forth with anybody about our spirituality, okay.  But your observation, I would like to extend your observation.  Today, our children do not talk our language.  Why?  There are many things that our children do not do.  Why?  Because of the imposition on our culture and the imposition is very strong, very vehement.  So that is one of the things I’d like to say, but having said that, when it comes to talking about our spirituality I speak from experience.  I live it, I do it.  What I am hearing is way out there, not something that they have experienced.  It is not something that they know, that they see with their own eyes.  They have second, third hand knowledge.  I speak from experience, I have seen, I have heard and I have been there, okay.”


Roy Cayetano

Roy Cayetano, Garifuna Historian

“If I may, my own thinking is that the gentleman is irrelevant.  My thinking, and his marshalling Garifuna people to speak against their own people is evidence of a serious weakness in the socialization of our people and the schooling that our people get.  Whoever reported to him was lying and he perpetuated the lies.  I will not characterize it in any other way, but we have to look at the education of our people and make sure that action is taken to fill in some serious gaps that exist.  I am one of those who believe that we have to take greater control of the education of our people.  Our people, our culture, our language, our culture has been engaged, we can say, in an unfair competition with the knowledge and languages, knowledge and skills of the west.  From the time the colonizers came, they established schools and they established religion and those were tools that they used to manipulate the minds, the thinking of the people and make them compliant.  We have been victims of that.”

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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