Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month “Keimoun Youroumaÿn”

Happy Caribbean-American Heritage Month “Keimoun Youroumaÿn”

New York – The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. a, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization is proud to celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month 2018 and the contributions of Caribbean-Americans throughout the United States. We are also pleased to announce initial conversations with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, for the SecondGarifuna Homecoming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines “Youroumaÿn”, in July 2019, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of its Independence on October 27, 1979 an the Reunification of the Garifuna People.

As descendants from Africans, who intermarried with the Indigenous inhabitants who settled in St. Vincent Vincent and the Grenadines, the Garifunas, are part of the unique cultures and melting pot of ethnicities that have their roots in the Caribbean. “Youroumaÿn” is the original Carib name of the island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The name is spelled Yurumein in Central America.

221 years ago, everybody wondered if the Garifunas were going to survive as a people and live a long healthy life. Two years after the paramount Garifuna Chief Joseph Chatoyer was killed on March 14, 1795, the Garifuna people were forcibly transferred from their native land of St. Vincent Vincent and the Grenadinesto the island of Roatán, off the Caribbean Coast of Honduras from where they dispersed along the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua. While the British released some of the indigenous inhabitants in captivity and allowed them to stay, they were relocated north of the Rabacca River in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and forbidden from speaking their native language, leading to its extinction.

221 years later, not only have the Garifunas survived, they’ve thrived, while preserving the Arawakan language of their ancestors, customs, cultural values and beliefs and have reconnected with the Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in New York City, home of the largest Garifuna population outside of Central America. They are planning the SecondGarifuna Homecoming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines ” Youroumaÿn” in July 2019.

The desire of the Central American Garifunas to reconnect with St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been demonstrated over the years by the re-enactment of the forcible transfer of the Garifunas from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their settlement in Central America titled “Yurumein”, as part of the Garifuna Settlement Day festivities celebrated on April 12thin Honduras, November 19thin Belize and Nicaragua and November 26thIn Livingston (Labuga), Guatemala. The traditional Garifuna song “Yurumein” is recognized as the international anthem of the Garifuna People and precedes all cultural events.

This desire has been memorialized in songs such as the late Andy Palacio’s “Keimoun Yurumein” . According to Andy, “Keimoun Yurumein,” simply put, means “Let’s go to St. Vincent.” There is a deeper meaning though. It is about satisfying that Garifuna nostalgia for our original homeland. Hence I wrote: The voice of my ancestors. Calling calling. From the land of my forefathers. Calling calling. Keimoun Yurumein!”

To paraphrase a great Belizean writer, “in an existence parallel to Alex Haley’s Roots, 222 years later we will be returning to our immortalized St. Vincent, the place songs and stories had told us was our home by birth right. St. Vincent “Youroumaÿn” is no longer a legend, existing only in the dying words of elders, being passed on to the young, but very much a tangible reality with a tragic lesson of culture lost.”

While the Central American Garifuna Diaspora had maintained links and connections with the Central American countries where they ended as a result of being forcibly transferred, such had not been the case with St. Vincent and the Grenadines “Youroumaÿn” the Ancestral Homeland of the Garifuna People.

Therefore, In 2009 as part of its Cultural reclamation and preservation efforts, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. organized the Garifuna Reunion in St. Vincent and the Grenadines “Youroumaÿn” on July 18 – 23, 2009 as an integral component of Vincy Homecoming 2009 in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Independence of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The Garifuna Reunion launched the Renaissance of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in Youroumaÿn the Ancestral Homeland of the Garifuna People, which led to the reunification with the Garifuna Indigenous People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

On Tuesday, February 2017 St Vincent and the Grenadines inaugurated the new Argyle International Airport by receiving its first-ever flight. On March 12, Caribbean Airlines announced a non-stop direct flight service between John F. Kennedy airport (JFK) and Argyle International Airport (SVD). On May 2, 2018, American Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to serve St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVD) with a year-round Saturday service from Miami to Argyle International Airport beginning on December 22nd 2018. These new services will make it easier to travel for the participants of the SecondGarifuna Homecoming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines ” Youroumaÿn”!

Two hundred twenty two years later, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. will once again respond to the voice of our ancestors in the land of our forefathers by organizing the SecondGarifuna Homecoming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines “Youroumaÿn” in July 2019, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of its Independence and the Reunification of the Garifuna People, which will provide an opportunity for the Garifuna Diaspora to get to know and reconnect with their ancestral homeland “Youroumaÿn” and long lost relatives to reclaim their history, identity and contribute to the Renaissance of the Garifuna Heritage and Culture in Youroumaÿn the Ancestral Homeland of the Garifuna People.

The Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. is proud to celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month 2018 and the contributions of Caribbean-Americans throughout the United States. We also invite you to join us during the SecondGarifuna Homecoming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines ” Youroumaÿn” in July 2019, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of its Independence on October 27, 1979 an the Reunification of the Garifuna People. ” Let’s go to Youroumaÿn!

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