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Jul 19, 2022

The Garifuna Collective Heads to Europe for Post-pandemic Tour

The Garifuna Collective is back on the road after two years of being sidelined from the world stage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  It’s the moment the eight-member band has been eagerly anticipating since the world began to open up, a chance to once again showcase Belize’s cultural export.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano spoke with Tour Manager Al Obando and a few of the band members.  Here’s that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Garifuna Collective is heading to Europe to kick off its post-pandemic tour.  This is the group’s first overseas gig since 2020 when COVID-19 forced many countries the world over to go into lockdown.


Al Obando

Al Obando, Tour Manager, Garifuna Collective

“What happened is that the agent had all these gigs before the pandemic and so this is what they could have sorted out and actually convince the festivals that we should be a part of.  So the Garifuna Collective is venturing on this three-week tour starting on the twenty-fifth of July and we’re coming back on August twelfth.  We start off in the Czech Republic, we do Belgium and then we go to London for a week.  We do the big Peter Gabourel’s WOMAD Festival in Chalkland Park and then we do the Jazz Café in London, in the Camden area and then from there we move back into France.  We’ll do like four cities in France.”


In the intervening time since its last outing, the band has been fine-tuning its performances.  Members have also been honing their individual skills.


Desiree Diego

Desiree Diego

“For the past two years, actually I was sick and then now God blessed me with another opportunity, a going out.  So during this time not on stage out there, I sing with the local band, I still do some practicing.  I work along with Emilio and Al sometimes and then I keep on doing little things at home that will keep me on track to keep up the music”.


Isani Cayetano

“Are you looking forward to getting out there and seeing the world again?”


Desiree Diego

“Of course, I’m excited.  I really, really want to be out there again along with the band to put our Garifuna culture out more and to represent Belize to the best of our ability.”


Emilio Thomas is looking forward to taking the stage, but not so much the commute between venues.


Emilio Thomas

Emilio Thomas, Garifuna Collective

“Well I’m very excited about the part of being on the stage.  The moving around part, not so much, but we have to go through it.  I’m ready for the challenges that the tour brings, so what I am mostly looking forward to is that I know that us being on the stage creates an opportunity for the other tours that are coming up.  You know, there are so many opportunities that will arise based on all of these gigs that we have pending and I know that we will have a grand time, moving around and interacting with people and learning a lot as we go along.”


Lending support to the Collective’s cause is the Belize Tourism Board.  On Monday, Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler presented the band with a check for fifteen thousand dollars.  Financial assistance from the Government of Belize is what makes this all possible.


Al Obando

“We were really fortunate this time.  It was really easy for us.  We had some dialogue with the minister and so we have to say thanks to Minister Fonseca, through NICH, they came up for us.  Minister Mahler again, Anthony Mahler, he came through, through BTB, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and directly with the Prime Minister’s Office.  It really helped us a lot.  What happened is that [with] each of these tours we are always… we always need the support of Belize, the country of Belize, and they came through for us.”


Isani Cayetano For News Five


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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