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Our Story

The Garifuna are the descendants of indigenous Arawak, Kalinago, and Afro-Caribbean people. The Afro-Caribbean Garifuna people originated with the arrival of West African slaves who washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent around 1635 while likely on their way to New World mines and plantations.  Today, the global population of Garifunas stands at upwards of 300,000 people, many of whom live in the U.S. and Canada.  Garifuna communities along the Caribbean Sea live mostly in coastal towns and villages in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

As the UNESCO recognition suggests, Garifuna culture is closely identified with music and dance.  Garifuna music styles are known for their heavy use of percussion instruments and distinctive drumming, which combines the beats of primero (tenor) and segunda (bass) drums.  Garifuna drums are typically made from hollowed-out hardwoods such as mahogany or mayflower that are native to Central America.

Garifuna Cafe Founder.jpg
FOUNDER / Carlos A. Martinez

In the Kitchen

Garifuna food and drink make use of a combination of native Central American crops and African staples, including fish, chicken, cassava, bananas and plantains.  Machuca, a dish of mashed green plantains with coconut milk soup and fried fish, is a common example of a traditional Garifuna dish.  Dharasa, the Garifuna version of a tamale, is made from green bananas to taste either sweet or sour.  Cassava bread is served with most meals.  Other Garifuna breads include: buns, banana bread and pumpkin bread.

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