The Garifuna Dugu Ritual in Belize
A Celebration of Relationships
This chapter examines the spiritual worldview of the Garinagu people of Belize through the lens of the dugu ritual system. The distinct aspects of the ritual embody the traditional Garifuna worldview and religious practices. After a brief look at the roots of Garifuna philosophy, located in West African and Amerindian worldviews, this chapter provides a comprehensive, descriptive overview of the dugu and analyzes how its enduring practice sustains a strong sense of ethnic identity among the Garinagu.
The contemporary Garinagu, who live in the Central American nation of Belize, trace their roots to the coming together of Carib Indians (known as Kallinagos) of the Lesser Antilles with West Africans brought on slave ships to the Caribbean by European colonial masters. Their encounter and intermarriage resulted in a new ethnic group, the Garinagu, with its origins on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. This emerging group, referred to by the British as “Black Caribs,” later reclaimed their ancestral name, Garinagu. (The term Garinagu is the plural form and refers collectively to the whole people. The singular form Garifuna is also the name of the language and is used as an adjective.)
Garifuna spirituality is thus rooted in both West African and Amerindian traditional religions, integrating their core elements. The Garinagu people have reconfigured the basic orientations of both West African and Carib Indian worldviews into a new pattern of meaning, symbols, and expression. Therefore, any discussion of Garifuna spirituality warrants a look at these two worldviews.