Ten Best Garifuna Songs of All Time  
By: Jos� Francisco �vila

� 2014 by Jos� Francisco �vila, All Rights Reserved


As we continue the celebration of Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month and approach the weekend, I'd like to share my list of what I consider the Ten Best Garifuna Songs of All Time! I realize that there is no general agreement regarding the greatest song and no uniform criteria for evaluating result. However, I believe that everyone has a favorite list of songs, which is why all music reproduction devices include the ability to create a personal playlist.


Jose Francisco Avila 

"Garifuna songs are poetry. They capture the history, the values, the aspirations, the concerns and the deepest feelings of a people who have been kept illiterate in their own language. The songs capture and express the totality of the Garifuna experience and in a sense serve as a literature that is waiting to be committed to writing and translated into other languages for our common benefit. As for the melodies and the rhythms, which again are a very interesting amalgam of African and Amerindian elements enhanced by simple instruments in traditional music or by more elaborate instrumentation in the more modern Punta Rock forms, the appeal is universal."[1]


During my freshman college year, I took a Music Appreciation Class, which taught me to understand the value and merit of different styles of music beginning with the classics. It is that training that I apply as I listen to music and led to my selection of what I consider the Ten Best Garifuna Songs of All Time! Here they are: 

  • Yurumein (St Vincent Island) - Album Songs of the Garifunas Aurelio Martinez & Lita Ariran  - Yurumein is the ancestral name of the island of St Vincent. Recognized as the International Garifuna anthem, this traditional Garifuna song tells story of the forcible deportation of the Garifuna People from St Vincent and it's played at every Garifuna Cultural event.
  • Uwala Uwala Busiganu (Don't be ashamed of your culture) -Pen Cayetano and The Turtle Shell Band this this song is acall for pride and awareness of the Garifuna culture and not to lose it. 
  • Garinagu Wagia (We are Garifunas) |Julio "J King" Lopez and the Sea Boys - this  song reminds us that  wherever we are, we are Garifunas and encourages us not to lose our language nor our culture.
  • Garifuna | The Best of Scakes Volume 1- I had the honor of meeting Mr. Kenneth "Vibrating Scakes" Alleyne   During the Garifuna Homecoming in 2009 and he told us that this song was written in honor of the Bicentennial of the Garifuna Exile. "Chatoyer says Rise Up for a new day has dawned, Garifuna, live, Garifuna live"
  • Garifuna Nuguya (I am Garifuna) | Titiman Flores this fast paced Punta Rock song proudly claims "I am Garifuna", don't be ashamed to speak Garifuna, or eat our Garifuna food, hudutu, bundiga, darasa, dani, etc.
  • Hafanidira (The Garifuna Flag) |Baby Lou Africa - I am grateful to DJ Oscar Ordonez who gave me this CD and suggested I listened to track 5. I did and it immediately became one of my favorite songs. Beautifully composed and arranged, It starts with the lyrics of "Yurumein" and then switches into the theme of the song, Garinagu I will talk to you about a flag, a flag without par, a beautiful flag, whose flag? The Garifuna flag!
  • Inebesei Garifuna (Garifuna Tribute) |Justo Castro & Banda Yurumei - This was the official Tribute to the 200th Anniversary of the Arrival of the Garinagu to Central America on April 12, 1797.  The commemoration was titled "Garifuna Bicentennial" and was held in La Ceiba, Honduras in April 1997. The song tells the story of the journey from St Vincent to Roatan with a very innovative combination of traditional and modern Garifuna rhythms and beautifully sung by its composer Justo Castro.
  • Lidan Aban (Together) | Album W�tinaAndy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective - This is perhaps one of the most encouraging Garifuna song ever written! Beginning with the title "Together" and full of positive and encouraging advise in every verse, including "S�ngubei lidan Aban wag�arali wamalali" Let's raise our voices together, "Gurasu, Erei Furendei luma anichigu Lig�aba megei Lun hawanserun isanigu" 
  • �mu�eg� (In Times to Come) | Album W�tinaAndy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective - In this song Andy asks "Who will speak to me in Garifuna in times to come? Who will perform the d�g�? Who will perform the arumahani song in times to come? We must preserve Garifuna culture now, lest we lose it altogether in times to come."
  • Samina Humei (Think About it) | Andy Palacio "Greatest Hits" - Released in 1994, I consider this song the wake up call to the Garinagu about the land grab in Central America by foreigners. We have lost Yurumein are we also going to lose Belize? Think about it my friends, think about it my people! Foreigners are coming to our village with money and power; they are coming with all that. They've bought our lands, the sea and have a voice in our education!

Perhaps after reading my list you will be curious enough to search for the songs and listen to them online, however, I strongly suggest you support Garifuna music by purchasing the album or listen to Puntalogy, the # 1 Source of Garifuna Music, hosted by Don Juleon on Brava Sound Radio Wednesdays from 10 PM to 12 AM and Sundays from 8 PM to 10 PM. Happy Garifuna Arts & Culture Appreciation Month!


[1] UNESCO Candidature Standard FormProclamation of masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity


# # #