Rodger Randle: Photos of the Garífuna people of Honduras
Life by the sea.
The Garífuna of Honduras
For the Garífuna people of the Caribbean, the ocean has always been close by.
The city of La Ceiba lies on the narrow coast between the mountains and the sea. It is the home of the Garífuna organization ODECO (La Organización de Desarrollo Étnico Comunitario), the group with which we have worked on projects in Honduras in partnership with a team from Tulsa Community College.
(Additional notes can be found at the bottom of the page, following the photographs.)

The People
This young man has a welcoming smile, typical of the Garífuna people.
The face of this lady reflects the dignity with which the Garífuna people carry themselves.
This woman also reflects the character of the people.
This young man’s smile is so broad and sincere that it makes me smile just to look at the photograph.
This picture was made at the end of a workday. His clothing reflects that it was a day of hard physical work. This contrast with the cleanliness and neatness that we see in the photos of others.
Here is another wonderful smile. His hat is a reminder of the cultural connections that the community has built with G emigrants in the United States.

Garífuna Life
All the work is hard and living conditions are very basic for most of the people, nothing is more valuable than taking time to spend with friends and neighbors.
This is a street in one of the neighborhoods I’ve visited.
It looks like the kind of place where I where I would enjoy living.
This woman is preparing a typical cassava bread commonly found throughout the Caribbean.
Here is a close-up photo of the raw cassava that goes into making the flatbread that we see in the photo above. It has been peeled and (I believe) cooked and is now ready for the next step in the preparation process.
On the left, we see a woman washing her dishes, and on the right, we say, young man, cleaning cassava. roots
These are working boats, as their weathered appearance proves.
Men find time to relax and visit with each other, too, as we say, in this picture of a group visiting in front of a neighborhood shop. The two signs that we see on the shop front are advertising cellular services.
Fresh fruit that has fallen to the ground in this children's play area.
Here is another picture outside a house that shows people visiting as they work, though I can’t quite identify what they are doing.
Secondhand school buses from the United States are used for intercity transport in South America in mini lower income areas. In this case, the destinations indicated on the front of the bus are all Honduran G communities.
Here is a kind of homemade train that serves communities in the jungle areas near the coast. The railroad tracks would have been left over from banana fields that were probably owned by the United Fruit Company and abandoned. This shows initiative and ingenuity on the part of the people who took advantage of the opportunity that the railroad tracks provided them.
This big tractor is not typical of what people can afford. This is a prosperous farmer in deed. As he returns from the work at the end of his day, he has welcomed by kids of the neighborhood … some of them catch a ride on the back of the tractor.
Additional Notes...

The Garífuna people have an interesting and unique story. They were on a ship to the New World to be sold into slavery, but the ship sank near the coast of the island of Saint Vincent, near Venezuela. The Africans swim to shore and hid in the forests of the island. They met the local indigenous Indians, and were protected by them, and eventually lived with them, and many intermarried. this worked well for the Garífuna people until the British decided that they wanted to occupy the island and the jeep people were pushed off the island and re-settled along the coast of Central America, where they still live. Today they are found along the coast of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

They are again facing pressures to leave the coastal areas which are now becoming valuable for tourism, just as they were forced to leave Saint Vincent, because that property became desirable to the British.

They have preserved their language and culture, and remained tied to the sea. However, they are challenged not only about the fact that there homelands have become covered it by non-Garífuna people, but also economic and social integration with the broader communities in which they live present new kinds of challenges towards the preservation of their culture and way of life.

The connection between Tulsa and the Garífuna people started several years ago when a group of young leaders from different countries came to Tulsa on a national tour sponsored by the United States Department of State. One of the people in the group was Ovilson Bermudez, a youth leader of ODECO (La Organización de Desarrollo Étnico Comunitario), an organization of Garífuna people in Honduras.

I later visited the organization's headquarters in La Ceiba, Honduras, and met the founder and leader of the organization, Celeo Alvarez Casildo.  Mr. Alvarez and I became good friends and through him I had some exceptionally wonderful opportunities to participate in activities of the World Bank, and the Organization of American States.

As a result of the connections I made with the organization I was able to recruit participation from friends at Tulsa community college and we developed a leadership program with ODECO in La Ceiba. Also participating in this were Pam Chew and Donzetta Seals, among others. Daniel Chaboya was the leaderof the TCC group, and he also obtained support for our activity from a foundation he heads in Tulsa. Activities with in the Garífuna communities continued under Daniel’s leadership, and he became the mainstay of the work in Honduras. It is important to note tveryone who participated in the project did so on the volunteer basis, though OU and TCC supported in other ways.

The photos in this collection were taken during one of the trips in which I was a participant.

Rodger Randle
The photos on this page are © Rodger Randle .

OU Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture

Prof. Rodger A. Randle, Director
The University of Oklahoma Tulsa
4502 East 41st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74135