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Mar 22, 2023

Garifuna Collective Wraps Up Successful Tour of Australia and New Zealand

Today, the Garifuna Collective returned from a successful tour of Australia and New Zealand. The group of seven musicians performed at venues in Melbourne, Sydney and at the prestigious WOMAD Festivals in both in countries. They captivated the audiences with their unique blend of Garifuna and Belizean music and shared in the diverse indigenous cultures across both countries. A News Five team was outside the arrival lounge of the Philip Goldson International Airport to speak with the group about the experience.


Duane Moody, Reporting

After two days of travelling, the Garifuna Collective touched down at the P.G.I.A. after spending twenty-six days away performing in World of Music, Arts and Dance 2023 Festivals in Australia and New Zealand. It was the band’s second time touring in Australia, but their first-ever performance in New Zealand.


Al Obando

Al Obando, Road Manager, Garifuna Collective

“Everybody was excited because after COVID, everybody at the festivals and clubs we played were booked for over two years. Everybody was just happy to be on stage again, sharing that energy and understanding each other and seeing each other for such a long time as musicians. So that was really good for us and a good feeling. They understand it right away. Even the festivals that we played have musicians from all over the world – from Europe to Africa to South America and lot of indigenous people and cultures and tribes from all over the world. A lot of the groups are women based. We meet a lot of aboriginal people from Australia. We get to sit down with them and talk to them casual. So when it comes to that section, we wait to see everybody else performance and everybody appreciate our performance same way. So ina di world of music, we just fit right in.”


Emilio Thomas

Emilio Thomas, Vocalist/Guitar Player, Garifuna Collective

“New Zealand was a different experience, a human experience without distortion of religion and all the other stuff that are really affecting other indigenous cultures all over the world. That’s the first time I got into a situation like that. I am still processing it – I still need a couple more days or a week to process that specific country, but it was a worthwhile experience for all of us.”


Next month, the group is set to perform at the Summit of the Americas in Denver, Colorado, and in June and July, they will tour the U.S. and Canada before returning to Belize to perform at the second annual Belize International Music and Food Festival. Road Manager Al Obando, who also plays bass on the band, breaks down the schedule.


Al Obando

“We have a tour we started in the U.S. in October and so we are going to finish that up starting the end of May going into July. So we look forward again. Each tour or each leg of tour we do have its own vibe. This one we are doing has a lot more educational components built into it, lot more workshops, schools, universities, but also at the same time for festivals in the U.S. which is a hard place to work.”



“What are some of the cities slated for the U.S. in case the diaspora wants to come see you?”


Al Obando

“In terms of cities, it will be mostly east coast, Boston area, New York; that whole area Rochester all the way down. We will go furthest west to Chicago. We jump across the border to Canada to Sun Fest in Ontario, Canada and that should take up the time. A bunch of clubs, we have some new agents working with us, which is that’s the work we do.”


Basking in the cultural ambience, lectures on indigenous values and storytelling – these cultural ambassadors are also sharing their cultural foods.


Emilio Thomas

“We were charged to cook bundiga – one of the Garifuna dishes. There were cameras above, on the sides, everything – it was well put together, there were screens showing what was happening and people were sampling at the end. So don’t be surprised when people don’t come and ask for hudut coming to Belize; they will be asking for bundiga. And that was very fascinating because one thing that we realise in all of these festivals is that it is not just music. So people who are part of the band, we have different skill sets and every time we have to activate people in order to showcase those things.”


The Garifuna Collective has performed in over thirty countries across five continents, sharing their music and stories with global audiences. Duane Moody 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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