Garifuna Artist MALI CAYETANO Releases New Children’s Book about The Garifuna WANARAGUA Dance

Front Cover of the new children's book, WANARAGUA: A Unique Story About A Traditional Mask Dance.

Front Cover of the new children’s book, WANARAGUA: A Unique Story About A Traditional Mask Dance.

Copyright 2013 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved.  Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

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Belize, Central America:  Mali Cayetano, an illustrator, musician, singer and youth educator of Garifuna descent has recently released a new children’s book called “Wanaragua: A Unique Story about a Traditional Mask Dance”.

Mali Cayetano reads her new children's book, "Wanaragua: A Unique Story About A Traditional Mask Dance".  Photo by Studio Walporzheim.  Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

Mali Cayetano reads her new children’s book, “Wanaragua: A Unique Story About A Traditional Mask Dance”. Photo by Studio Walporzheim. Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

Designed as a follow-up to her debut children’s book, “WE ARE FREE: A Story About The Origin Of The Garinagu”; this new book follows the adventures of the characters in that book:

  • a) Garifuna children Binah, Namule and Hethu,
  • b) Dah, an old Garifuna woman who is also a herbalist
  • c) Dunuru, a bird

as they learn about the ceremonial Garifuna Wanaragua dance.

A family affair, this new children’s book, “Wanaragua: A Unique Story about a Traditional Mask Dance” was illustrated/designed by Mali Cayetano, storyboarded by Beni Cayetano (brother of Mali Cayetano) and written by Ibo Cayetano and Ingrid Cayetano (brother and mother of Mali Cayetano). Mrs. Ingrid Cayetano also was responsible for translating, managing and marketing this children’s book.  Garifuna artist and singer/musician Pen Cayetano (credited with creating Punta Rock) shared his artistic experience.  Born in Belize and raised in Germany, Mali Cayetano’s father is Pen Cayetano, a Garifuna from Belize and her mother Ingrid Cayetano is from Germany.

Ibo and Mali Cayetano share their new children's book about the Wanaragua dance with the world.  Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

Ibo and Mali Cayetano share their new children’s book about the Wanaragua dance with the world. Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

In an exclusive interview with Beinggarifuna.com, Mali Cayetano talks a little about this new artistic effort.

TIO TEO: “This children’s book is the result of your research on your masters, correct? If so, can you talk a little about any surprising things that you learned in your research about the Wanaragua dance?”

MALI CAYETANO:  “The children’s book, “Wanaragua – A unique story about a traditional mask dance” is one of three books (scientific book, art book and children’s book) based on a research about the Wanaragua dance for my masters. In February 2013, I finished my master studies in Germany. The title of my thesis was “Jankunú – Cultural studies of a Christmas dance in the Caribbean”, a research about the origin, development and influences of the traditional dance (dance, costume and music).”

“Since I didn’t know much about the Wanaragua; before my research, I was surprised that the same or similar dance is performed in different places in the Caribbean and South America. Also fascinating was to find similar dances or costumes in the African, Indian and even European countries, which I also compared in my studies.”

“I am so happy to discover my own culture and roots.  Knowing my culture means knowing more about me and getting stronger.  It’s great to see that the culture is still alive and is proudly celebrated and (re)presented.  My main goal is to keep it alive, preserve, save, share and spread it.”

Mali Cayetano's three books (children's book, scientific book and art book) about the Garifuna Wanaragua Dance.  Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

Mali Cayetano’s three books (children’s book, scientific book and art book) about the Garifuna Wanaragua Dance. Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook

The Wanaragua dance, (also known as the Jankunu or John Canoe dance) is a masked dance performed in many parts of the Caribbean to lampoon colonials.  For Garinagu, it’s an expression of an early portion of the collective history of the Garifuna as it helps relay their continued resistance to the British on their ancestral land of St. Vincent.  In 1797, the Garifuna people were banished by the British to Roatan, Honduras after losing to them in war.  The Wanaragua dance is typically performed in Garifuna villages during the Christmas holidays.  Specifically on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

Those interested in buying the “Wanaragua – A unique story about a Traditional Mask Dance” children’s book can purchase on it on Mali Cayetano’s website, www.malicayetano.com.  It is also available at the Pen Cayetano Studio Gallery in Dangriga, Belize; The Image Factory in Belize City and the Philip S. W. Goldson Airport in Belize City, Belize.  This new children’s book is also available on the Amazon.com website.

Mali Cayetano holds her new children's book.  Photo by Studio Walporzheim

Mali Cayetano holds her new children’s book. Photo courtesy of Mali Cayetano/Facebook.  Photo by Studio Walporzheim

Below is video The Los Angeles Garifuna Wanaragua Group, who are led by Wanaragua Chief, Flavio “Paps” Alvarez (from Guatemala) along with Los Angeles Garifuna Musical Group LIBAYA BABA (from Belize) give a Demonstration of the Garifuna Wanaragua Dance at The 2013 Smithsonian FolkLife Festival at The National Mall in Washington D.C. This demonstration took place on SATURDAY July 7th 2013. Also, Master Drummer Carlos Domingo Alvarez gives an explanation as to the Wanaragua Dance.

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– – Teofilo Colon Jr

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