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Aurelio Martinez is a well know musician who has released several albums including Garifuna Soul which won top 10 Album in 2004 and for which he was named newcomer of the year. For Martinez, who grew up in a small fishing village on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, promoting the Garifuna culture and music is of utmost importance. And that is exactly what he will be doing in Belize for the next couple of days. Since yesterday Martinez has been meeting with primary school students interested in music; teaching them about the different stages of Garifuna music. Today students of La Inmaculada School, Lousiana School and Trail Farm Government School gathered at the District Education Centre here in Orange Walk where they learned more about the Garifuna people through the music of Aurelio Martinez.

Carmelita Perez- Reporting  

His love for the Garifuna music has won him a number of awards and has earned him recognition internationally. Today through his guitar and drum beats Aurelio Martinez taught these young students more about the Garifuna culture and music, but more importantly, the students learned the importance of sharing and appreciating each other’s culture.

Screen_shot_2011-05-26_at_6.48.13_PMAurelio Martinez- Musician

“Los niños tienen que empoderarse de este conocimiento. Tenemos que introducirle a la juventud de lo que significa tener una cultura, una entidad y eso es lo que yo estoy tratando de hacer.”

Carmelita Perez- Reporter  

“Que importante diría usted que es la cultura para los jóvenes de nuestro país?”

Aurelio Martinez- Musician

“Es igual de importante como jugar futbol y aun mas porque al final eleva el nivel intelectual de los jóvenes. Un pueblo con cultura es un pueblo con menos probabilidades de que sea esclavizada por nadie, es un pueblo libre porque tiene identidad. Yo creo que la cultura empodera a los jóvenes, los aleja de las malas conductas y los acerca más a las cosas positivas. El intelecto es un fuente de libertad.”

When Martinez contacted the Ministry of Education and informed them about his idea to promote the Garifuna Culture in Belize it was an opportunity that could not be turned down.

Arlette Gomez- Ministry of Education

“The Ministry of Education feels that it is important for us to know all about the ethnicities that are in our country since we are a very diverse people and it is good for us to know each other’s culture. I am learning a lot I taught that it was all about drumming we did not understand that there are different segments of the Garifuna Music I am learning about the Paranda and the Punta. So we are all learning something and these students who have that musical inclination I am sure that they will benefit from it. As it is the crime rate that we are having right now is not good and we want our young people to know that there are other avenues you know you can turn to music, you can turn to drama, you can turn to the creative arts. Those are the things that we are trying to promote for our young people because there are alternatives to all the crime that is occurring out there. We want to tell our young children that they can be a part of that change at this young age. If we mole them now and teach them responsibility and respect and make them understand that there other things that they can then we feel like if we have won at least a small part of the battle.”

Martinez was a great friend of the late Andy Palacio, and they both shared a dream of visiting Mother Africa. Andy died before he could fulfill that dream, and today Martinez continues to promote the legacy of the King of Punta Rock through his music and Punta moves.

Aurelio Martinez- Musician

“Solamente mueven los dedos de los pies y la cintura no mueven nada más. Es una danza realmente sensual y se baila todo la noche y no cansa empiezan a flexionar la rodilla y eso le da movimiento a la cadera. Es fácil verdad. Esta canción África hace mucho tiempo lo escribí y hace mucho tiempo cuando estuvo Andy. Y es una canción de amor que representa todo lo que es mi Africania. Todo lo que es este pueblo que salió de África que lo sacaron a la fuerza y lego a San Vicente y fue sometido y siguió a Centro América y bajo circunstancias de discriminación sigue conservando esta cultura.”

And as students watched Martinez’s every move they were inspired by the beating of the drums and created their own Garifuna music.

And from what we were able to capture on our camera we are sure that today’s experience will be an unforgettable one for Belize’s future musicians.

Alex Keme- Student La Inmaculada School

“We learnt about the music of the Garifuna, how to dance Punta and how to play the drum.”

Carmelita Perez- Reporter  

“Do you know how to play the drums now?”

Alex Keme- Student La Inmaculada School


Carmelita Perez- Reporter  

“And do you know how to dance the Punta music?”

Alex Keme- Student La Inmaculada School

“No but I want to learn.”

Martinez will be in Belize until Monday touring the country and meeting with primary school students interested in music. Tomorrow he will offer a free concert for students of the Belize District at the Institute of Creative Arts.

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