The inhabitants of Seine Bight are descendants of a people who originated in St. Vincent. These people who were the result of a mixture of Africans who had been intended for slaves and the local Carib Indians of St. Vincent. The Garinagu people had a long journey to reach the shores of Belize, being sent first to the island of Balliceaux, then on to Rotan before a group finally came to Belize. These arrived in Belize on November 19th, 1832. They settled in Seine Bight about the year 1869. They were led from Riversdale by Emmanuel "Walpy" Moreira.
Two other groups followed: John Martinez who settled in the southern area called Santuario, and Mateo Augustine who settled in the northern division called Augustine Ville. Many more came to the village in the 1950's when the Blair Atoll operation, which produced rice & copra, was closed down.
Seine Bight now has a population of over 800 people and is still predominantly a community of Garinagu. They speak English, but still maintain the Garifuna language, which is an African dialect with a strong mixture of French, Spanish and English words. Today they preserve their cultural drumming, dances and customs and welcome visitors to share their culture.
In the 1920's and the 1930's most of the Garifuna teachers of British Honduras (now Belize) were found in Seine Bight.
The man responsible for the cultivation of that brood of teachers was Mr. Simeon Sampson, Sr. who spent twenty-three years of his teaching career as Seine Bight Village teacher.
Like most village teachers of his day, Mr. Sampson held multiple posts, namely, minister of religion, post master, counselor, deputy registrar of deaths and births, health coordinator (administering vaccinations), and alcalde (with full legal duties of a magistrate).
Garifuna (or Garinagu - the Africanized term for Garifuna) culture and history is fascinating -- combining slavery, tyranny, intrigue, revolts, uprisings, plagues, pestilence and treachery.
Notwithstanding their turbulent history, the Garifuna have managed to preserve their unique culture with their punta and Wanaragua dances, sacred drumming, Anancy folk tales, ancestral worship, Elder's Councils and other cultural practices.
In fact, the international jury of the World Heritage Center in Paris has proclaimed the "Garifuna Culture" to be "a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity." The proclamation recognizes Garifuna language, music, dance and spiritual values to be of outstanding universal value to all humanity.
SEINE BIGHT VILLAGE
Seine Bight Village is close to the perfect place to learn about Garifuna culture and history. Seine Bight is small (population of approximately 826 people), so visitors are easily able to meet and talk with Village residents and elders. Seine Bight was fairly isolated until about 26 years ago when the Peninsula road was built - - allowing its unique Garifuna culture to survive and prosper.