King of Paranda Music, GARIFUNA Singer Musician PAUL NABOR Passes Away in Belize At Age of 86

 

Copyright 2014 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved.  Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

Twitter:  @beinggarifuna

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/beinggarifuna

Instagram: http://instagram.com/beinggarifuna_com

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE.  Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted via the PAYPAL website so your potential donations are SAFE and SECURE.

Punta Gorda, Belize — Famed Garifuna Singer Musician, Paul Nabor of Belize has passed away.  The King of Paranda, Mr. Nabor passed away on Wednesday, October 22nd 2014 at The Punta Gorda Hospital after recent complications from a third stroke he was afflicted by on October 12th 2014.   Mr. Paul Nabor was subject to an Official Funeral sponsored by his native Belize, which took place on SATURDAY, November 1st 2014.

 

From the coastal Garifuna Village of Barranco in the Toledo District of Belize; Mr. Paul Nabor (whose birth name was Alfonso Palacio) was affectionately known as “Nabi”.  He was best known as a writer and singer of Garifuna songs in the Paranda genre–which typically consists of ballads sung on guitar accompanied by percussion.

In his youth, Mr. Paul Nabor was a boxer and Paul Nabor was the name he used as a boxer.  I imagine that fighting spirit helped Mr. Nabor survive and maintain in the rough and harsh world of show business.  Mr. Nabor was also fisherman and a buyei–a Garifuna spiritual figure that presides over dügü rituals at the dabuyaba, or Garifuna temple.  1

While Mr. Nabor played music most of his life, his professional recording career did not begin until the age of 71, when he was invited to be a part of the 1999 Stonetree Records compilation album, “Paranda: Africa In Central America”.  2

Mr. Nabor was also featured in the 2007 album by Andy Palacio and The Garifuna Collective “Watina”, with two songs.  3

  • Yagane (“My Canoe” in the Garifuna Language)
  • “Ayo, Da” (“Goodbye, My Dear”).

Fluent in Garifuna, English and Spanish, I didn’t know of Mr. Nabor’s command of those three languages until I saw him in an episode of the SPAIN TV program, “All The World Is Music”.  The episode, entitled, “Honduras and Belize: The Garifuna Adventure” served to highlight the Paranda genre of Garifuna music and in particular helped introduce Aurelio Martinez to international audiences.

In the excerpt below, Mr. Nabor sings his song, “Naguya Nei” (“I Am Moving On” in the Garifuna Language).  Afterwards, he is involved in a philosophical conversation with Mr. Aurelio Martinez, in SPANISH!   In essence, Mr. Nabor explains that there are two races of people in the world, white and black.  Yet. Mr. Nabor asks Aurelio if you cut a white person and a black person, what color would the blood be?  Aurelio Martinez’s answer makes a declaration of the humanity that connects all human beings.

In the video below, Mr. Paul Nabor talks about his love of his guitar and how that led to conflicts with other people–namely women, who also wanted his affection.  In this clip, you can hear his fluency in the English language.

Mr. Nabor was also featured in filmmaker Katia Paradis documentary, Three Kings of Belize (2007, Canada, Amazone Films, 88 minutes). In this documentary, the lives and music art of Three Belizean musicians are profiled.  In addition to Mr. Paul Nabor; A Mayan Harp player Florencio Mess and A Creole accordionist, Mr. Wilfred Peters are profiled.    4

As expected, reaction to Mr. Paul Nabor’s death was wide-ranging, emotional and at times, insightful.  Mr. Yasser Musa, Former President of the NICH in Belize, talked about a powerful image and memory that remains with him when he thinks of Mr. Paul Nabor.

“In Indonesia, at a concert, where he and his big hat was in front of THOUSANDS of people.  I felt that we had arrived at a special place.  in terms of what he had done, his contribution.  Because he was a parandero, a Paranda MASTER, and his whole life was spent with community music.”  – Yasser Musa

You can see more in this Channel 5 Belize news report on the passing of Mr. Paul Nabor, which is narrated by Isani Cayetano.  This news report also reflects on Mr. Nabor’s contribution to Garifuna spirituality and his overall significance to Belize and Garinagu overall.

The funeral itself looked to be an emotional, spiritual affair.  With people coming from all over to come together and pay their respects to Mr. Paul Nabor.  This funeral was an official Belize funeral for Mr. Nabor.  In news reports and photos you can see Mr. Nabor’s custom coffin being carried on the shoulders of members of the Belize Defense Force.

The Belize Defense Force carrying the coffin of Mr. Paul Nabor.  Photo courtesy of The Belize Tourism Board / Facebook

The Belize Defense Force carrying the coffin of Mr. Paul Nabor. Photo courtesy of The Belize Tourism Board / Facebook

Some of the dignitaries who attended this funeral, which took place at St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church in Punta Gorda, Belize included:

  • Mr. Robert Mariano, President of The National Garifuna Council
  • Mrs. Monica Marie Martinez — Daughter of Mr. Paul Nabor
  • Mr. Francis Fonseca, Leader of The People’s United Party,
  • Mr. Darius Avila — President of Battle of The Drums Secretariat
  • Mr. Michael Norales — Battle of The Drums Secretariat
  • Ms. Diane Haylock — NICH President
  • Mr. Aurelio Martinez — Music Artist
  • Mr. Yasser Musa — Visual Artist

Funeral for Mr. Paul Nabor in Belize.  Photo courtesy of Belize Tourism Board / Facebook.

Funeral for Mr. Paul Nabor in Belize. Photo courtesy of Belize Tourism Board / Facebook.

In the video below, which is a news account of the official Belize funeral for Mr. Paul Nabor, I draw your attention to the words of Mr. Aurelio Martinez, who eloquently expresses one of the ironies and hard truths of life when it comes to Mr. Paul Nabor and the community’s response towards him.  According to Mr. Aurelio Martinez, Mr. Paul Nabor told Aurelio, “I Love coming to Honduras, Because in Honduras, children respect me.  The children respect me.”

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE. Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted through the PAYPAL website, so potential donations are SAFE and SECURE. 


Aurelio continued, “Everyone would call him ‘Grandpa, Grandpa, Grandpa’.  Sometimes in Dangriga or in Hopkins, he wouldn’t get that same respect from the children.  And he missed that because he deserved that kind of respect and we deserve that kind of respect in Honduras in the Garifuna village, and Paul Nabor felt it.”   Here, the hard truth of the life of an elder being taken for granted is worth contemplating.  There’s also the haunting words of Mr. Francis Fonseca who talked about how artists like Mr. Nabor often live a hand-to-mouth existence, despite their  plentiful cultural and artistic contributions to society at large.

Over the years, Mr. Paul Nabor was the recipient of many distinguished honors and awards.  In 2004, The Government of Belize awarded Mr. Nabor with an Order of Distinction and Meritorious Service Award.  In 2006, he was honored as a Distinguished Guest by the Government of Honduras when he went visited Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras upon the release of Aurelio Martinez’s Garifuna Soul album that same year.  In 2008, he was honored on the steps of City Hall in New York City with a proclamation by the New York State Senate.  Finally, in 2011, Mr. Paul Nabor was granted a monthly pension of $500 — to be given during the duration of his life, in honor of Mr. Nabor’s “Lifetime Artistic Contribution to World Music”.

The Paranda King, Mr. Paul Nabor on the set of the SPAIN TV Music Program, "All The World Is Music" in the Episode "Honduras and Belize: The Garifuna Adventure" by Patricia Ferreira.  Photo by Manuel Rojo.

The Paranda King, Mr. Paul Nabor on the set of the SPAIN TV Music Program, “All The World Is Music” in the Episode “Honduras and Belize: The Garifuna Adventure” by Patricia Ferreira. Photo by Manuel Rojo.

Here is Channel 5 Belize’s news report on the actual Funeral Service for Mr. Paul Nabor.  Here, we get to hear the speech by the only child of Mr. Paul Nabor, his daughter Monica Marie Martinez.  There is also a glimpse of Aurelio Martinez singing Mr. Paul Nabor’s signature song, “Naguya Nei” leading the gathered mourners along in song.  Beautiful.

Here is Channel 5 Belize’s news report on Musicians honoring Mr. Paul Nabor with a tribute concert Celebrating the Life of Mr. Paul Santino Nabor.  I didn’t recognize some of the artists, but you can see  Adrian Martinez, Lloyd Augustine, the Garifuna Collective and Mr. Aurelio Martinez all performing and paying tribute to Mr. Paul Nabor.

Finally, here is more video of the Musical Tribute to Mr. Paul Nabor, it features Aurelio Martinez and The Garifuna Collective performing.

ABOUT The Garifuna People


The Garifuna people are people of African descent (in other words, Black people) whose ancestry can be traced to Africans mixing with Carib Indians and Arawak Indians on the Eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent.  From this fusion of race and ethnicities in St. Vincent Island, a distinct culture and language arose.  They are noted for being one of the few (only?) peoples of African descent (again, in other words, Black people) in the Americas to have maintained aspects of their ancestral culture and full use of their ancestral language for everyday use over the course of hundreds of years.

After being defeated in war with the British on St. Vincent in 1796; 1004 men, 1779 women and 1,555 children for a total of 4,338 people (mostly Black Caribs, as the Garifuna people were then known) were captured and taken to Baliceaux, a small island, a rock, basically, off the coast of St. Vincent.  This took place from July 1796 through February/March 1797.  About 2,000 Garifunas died of a mysterious and very infectious fever while living on Baliceaux awaiting their fate.   5

In early March 1797, the remaining Garifunas were loaded onto the HMS Experiment and other ships.  Once they were rounded up, the convoy were taken to a Bequia, which is another island off the coast of St. Vincent. They proceeded to go to Grenada to get water, then Jamaica for refueling, then finally Roatan, Honduras, arriving on April 12th 1797.

Finding much of Roatan unliveable, the Garifuna people petitioned officials representing Spain and it’s government (which controlled much of Central America at the time) to be allowed to move to the Honduran mainland.  Upon being allowed to move to the Honduran mainland, namely the port town of Trujillo, Honduras in May 1797; the Garifunas settled many towns and villages along the Caribean coast of Honduras.  They also migrated to the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Belize (then known as British Honduras) and Nicaragua over the years.

If you find the BEING GARIFUNA Website helpful and useful, please DONATE. Every dollar donated helps keep this website in operation.  Donations are accepted through the PAYPAL website, so potential donations are SAFE and SECURE. 


Rest In Peace To The King of Paranda, Mr. Paul Nabor.

Rest In Peace To The King of Paranda, Mr. Paul Nabor.

Notes:

  1. http://www.rootsworld.com/news/nabor14.shtml
  2. http://stonetreerecords.com/albums/paranda.php
  3. http://stonetreerecords.com/albums/watina.php
  4. http://www.amazonefilm.com/movies/threekingsofbelize.html
  5. Nancie L. Gonzalez, “Sojourners of the Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garifuna” pg. 21

Comments

comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Website