CBMR Digest is a publication of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago

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CBMR Digest

Latest Issue: Fall 2014

ISSN # 2168-3301spring 2013 | Volume 26, No. 1

Filmmaker Andrea Leland to Release Yurumein

A Documentary about the revival of Garifuna culture on St. Vincent

The CBMR Library and Archives houses extensive notes and raw materials (transcripts, video, and field notes) amassed by Andrea Leland during the production of her earlier documentary films. Her new film Yurumein will add significantly to the discussion and issues of Caribbean colonialism, culture, and history of which many indigenous communities have been a part.

Award-winning filmmaker Andrea Leland, director and producer of Jamsie, King of Scratch and The Garifuna Journey, will release her newest film, Yurumein, a documentary about the revival of Garifuna culture on the island of St. Vincent, this fall. Leland has worked with and filmed the Garifuna diaspora for the past twenty years. The filmmaker explains: “The Indigenous Garifuna, descendants of Carib and Arawak and West African people, once lived freely on the island of St. Vincent for hundreds of years. But after the defeat of their chief, Chatoyer, most were forced into hiding and eventually exiled by British colonial forces during the eighteenth century. Only a handful remained in hiding on St. Vincent and Garifuna culture had been all but lost on the island for the last two hundred years. Until today, the community had been marginalized and labeled as cannibals. While ancestral traditions may have disappeared on St. Vincent, Garifuna culture, language, dance, and music flourished in the exiled communities in Central America.” While Leland’s 1998 documentary The Garifuna Journey focuses on the culture of the exiled Garifuna in Belize, Yurumein captures the efforts of St. Vincent’s Garifuna-descended population to recover their cultural traditions by connecting with their brothers and sisters in the larger Garifuna diaspora.

Of Yurumein, Leland writes:

The idea behind Yurumein (your-o-main) came to me during a 2005 screening of The Garifuna Journey in St. Vincent. Locals learned that whereas Garifuna culture had been suppressed on St. Vincent, it flourished in the diaspora. The emotionally charged community in St. Vincent expressed a desire to reconnect with the larger diaspora, and the story of Yurumein began that very day.

Yurumein is an important and untold story of Caribbean/Garifuna resistance against slavery that deserves its place in the annals of the African Diaspora. The film recounts the painful past of the Caribbeans on St. Vincent and the extermination of scores of their ancestors at the hands of the British, while building an intimate portrait of Garifuna culture-in-transition today. We are given firsthand accounts from both Caribbean descendants who remain on the island of St. Vincent and voices of returning descendants whose ancestors were exiled to Central America, where Garifuna traditional culture was able to survive and flourish.

When members of the diaspora are first reunited and make a collective pilgrimage to the sacred site of Balliceaux—where the genocide occurred—the film reveals the beginnings of a movement among Garifuna people to revitalize traditional language, music, dance, and ritual. As Garifuna from around the world come together to remember and celebrate the lives and resilience of their shared ancestors, they also begin to discover possibility and hope for the future of Garifuna culture and a greater worldwide community.

Support a CBMR-affiliated scholar and the production and dissemination of information about this rich culture. Visit the Center for Independent Documentary for additional information about the film and to view a trailer. You can also follow Yurumein on Facebook and on Twitter.

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