The second important stream of Africans was brought to Honduras by British colonists, to the Bay of Honduras in the 1600 and 1700s (This is 197 to 97 years before the arrival of the Black Carib/Garifuna People). Many of these mixed with the Miskitos. The Zambo-Miskito on the Caribbean coast of Honduras and Nicaragua were never conquered by Spanish troops and therefore could develop independently.
The Garifuna are a culturally differentiated Afro-indigenous, a mixture between Caribs and Arawaks Indigenous women and African men, whose ancestors successfully resisted slavery. The mixture, which took place in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, produced a new group known as the Black Caribs to distinguish them from the Amerindian Caribs. The Black Caribs adopted the indigenous culture, including the language.
St. Vincent was ceded to Great Britain in 1763 after the end of “the Seven Years’ War” with France, at the Treaty of Paris. The first act of the British colonizers in 1764 was to declare that all land in St. Vincent, belonged to the British Crown. The land issue was central to the native resistance to British colonization.
The British viewed the Black Caribs as “African Colonists” or Maroons and not as Indigenous, the Black Caribs viewed themselves as indigenous to the island and part of the overall Carib nation. The shipwreck story, which placed their history outside the prison of the plantation, was an important bolster to that identity.
The incompatibility of the desires of the Black Caribs, and those of the English settlers, erupted into a thirty-year war. Eventually, the Black Caribs were forcibly deported by the British, on March 11, 1797, to the British island of Roatan, Bay Islands, off the Honduran Atlantic coast, where they arrived on April 12, 1797.
As can be noticed, by the time the Black Caribs arrived at the Honduran coastline, there were numerous Black people already there. The Black Caribs were immediately recognized as being somewhat different from the others, primarily because of their language. (Canelas, 1999)
After their settlement, the Black Caribs founded the village of Punta Gorda, the first Garifuna community established in Central America, where my great grandfather Francisco Avila was born in 1839, forty-two years after the Garifuna settlement. My great grandmother, Tomasa Caballero, was born there also in 1848, fifty-one years after. Therefore, they are direct descendants of the ancestors who first settled Roatan.
They procreated my grandfather Tomas Avila Caballero in 1890. My grandfather’s physical characteristic resembled the anthropologist’s description of the Black Caribs in St. Vincent. My father and I were named after my great grandfather, while my grandfather and my twin brother were named after my great grandmother.
My great grandfather Pedro Nolasco Mena was born in 1843 in Trujillo, forty-six years after the Garifunas settlement. My great grandmother, Dorotea Garcia, was born in Trujillo also in 1852, fifty-five years after. Therefore, they are direct descendants of the first Garifuna settlers. They procreated my paternal grandmother Juana Mena Garcia in 1894. My sister Juana Rosa is named after our paternal and maternal grandmothers.
José Francisco Ávila
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