My week in Belize City and the Belize District has been eye opening and wonderful, all at once. I’ll post a recap of some of the places I explored and revisited, but in the meantime, here’s one I discovered that stood out.
Founded in 1999, the Luba Garífuna Museum in Belize City is the first-ever Garífuna museum in Belize. It’s the first museum in the city period, long before the Museum of Belize came to be. You wouldn’t know it existed unless your read up before your trip or researched. It’s not in the center of town; it’s tucked in a street corner in a semi residential neighborhood, an area off the beaten path to the average resident or tourist. But it’s worth the effort of finding it, because once you go past that residential gate, you’ll be taken aback by the spacious ground floor display rooms, filled with Garífuna history, cooking utensils, arts and crafts, photographs, books and traditional clothing. Items are clearly displayed and labeled, and rituals or ceremonies explained at length. There are more items collected here than I saw at the Barranco Culture House last year, gathered over a period of 30 years.
I spent over an hour here, and had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sebastian Cayetano, the museum’s founder and a co-founder of the National Garífuna Council. A teacher by training, he is passionate about his work and his African roots, about the youth cherishing their unique Garífuna background and way of life, and all the knowledge that comes with it. Sadly, many kids have less passion and interest than he’d like. He points to the corner, gazing at a display of sample Garífuna basketry — a skill that died with the artist who created them.
It’s eleven o’clock and Mr. Cayetano is expecting a class of up to 40 students from a local school to visit the museum; he’s prepared and ready to show them around and teach. I’m tempted to spend another half hour here but I have to get moving to my next visits. I’m so happy with the museum that I donate a little more than my US$5 entry fee before leaving.
“Everything I do, everywhere I go, I love to share about our African culture… I keep sharing our culture and promoting our African ancestry. “
I understood exactly what he meant – it’s my passion as well, being raised in both East and West African cultures. I feel compelled to share our stories, whichever corner of the continent that we may come from. And I can only hope to leave a mark through my work one day that is even remotely as inspiring as Mr. Cayetano’s lifelong efforts to showcase the Garífuna culture.
The Luba Garífuna Museum is located at 4202 Fern Lane, off Jamisne Street, in the St Martin’s Depores area of Belize City. Hours are Mon-Sat, 9-5pm. The entrance fee is US$5 for non residents, and extra donations are welcome.
On a separate note, a big thanks to all who voted for my blog in the Annual 2012 Black Weblog Awards. My site won the “Best Photography in a Blog” award! Thank YOU all for reading and supporting my work. I hope to bring you even more interesting images and reads this year as I work on the next edition of Moon Belize.