Garifuna are descendants of West Africans who were bound to become slaves. Instead, their ships wrecked near the island of St. Vincent, escaping slavery. The survivors made their way to the island and inter-married with the Arawaks.
Garifuna speak the Garifuna language, which is passed down orally from generation to generation. UNESCO declared the Garifuna language a “masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity” in 2001, along with Garifuna music and dance.
The British wanted to enslave the Garifuna and when they refused, the British sent them out to sea, to die. Many ended up along the Caribbean coast. According to legend, the Garifuna arrived in British Honduras, now called Belize, on November 19, 1802, now celebrated as Garifuna Settlement Day. The Governor of British Honduras refused to allow the Garifuna to come ashore. But after refusing them twice, he let them land, where they established fishing villages on the coast of Belize, including Hopkins.
Settlement Day is a national holiday in Belize and is celebrated with a re-enactement of the Garifuna landing, drumming, and dancing.