(as reported by Channel 5 News in belize)
It’s never easy to say goodbye but today Belizeans mourning the loss of Andy Palacio were comforted by the music, poetry, dance and love that were offered in tribute to the artist. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports from the Bliss Centre of Performing Arts.
Kendra Griffith, Reporting
This morning family, friends, fans from Belize and the international community crammed themselves into the Bliss Centre for the Performing Arts to say goodbye to musical icon, Andy Palacio.
Yasser Musa, President, NICH
“Today we gather in this Bliss to console and to celebrate, to pay tribute. We are here to console the beautiful children of Andy Palacio; Kami, Uani, Nita, Tara, Kamou and his two beautiful grandchildren; blessed Kathia and Asia. We are here to console his dear family, his mother Cleofa, his brother Oswald Elvis, and his sister Jacinta and all the many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles and friends. Let us give it to the family of Andy Palacio for sharing him with us and sharing him with the world. They too have sacrificed so much so that he could be with us.”
And the mourners honoured Andy in many different ways.
“Oh nanigi we refuse to bid you farewell, but only whisper to you a soft goodnight, goodnight, night-night, sleep tight. The drums fade in deafening silence as he departs peacefully, yet so suddenly.”
[Delille Academy Choir singing Weyu Larigi Weyu]
Allison Loerke, Andy’s Booking Agent
“I bring to you so many, many, many greetings from people all over North America and indeed further a field, Europe that have written myself, they’ve written Alejandro Colinas who worked as Andy’s tour manager. When they got the news of Andy’s passing they were so shocked and such great sadness because they’d met this person, they’d experienced his music and it touched them so, so deeply.”
Myrna Manzanares, President, Kriol Council
“Yes Andy, you ker ah out deh, you bring you ker ah back. Yes, Andy, you ker ah out deh, you ker ah, but you bring ah back. God Rest his soul.”
[Aurelio Martinez, Lugua Centeno and the Garifuna Collective singing medley]
“The Caribbean Community salutes this distinguished soil of the sun of the region and takes this opportunity to extend sincere condolences to the family of Andy Vivien Palacio as indeed to the government and people of Belize. He will long be remembered as an ardent and passionate advocate of his music and other cultural traditions of the Garifuna people of Belize and Central America for his outstanding talent.”
[Belize Dance Group performing to Aguyuha Niduhenu]
But one of the most emotional performances came when Andy’s son and daughter took the stage.
[Kamou singing Amunegu with Tara on steel band]
Roy Cayetano, Relative
“Like the average traditional Garifuna who struggles to deal with death, I find this incomprehensible. To find solace, I am tempted to blame the fallen brother for succumbing to death.”
“No death is what you should have told him. I will not go with you. So this is what sorrow is like, so this is what death is like. No death is what you should have told him. I will not go with him is what you should have said to him. My brothers and sisters, like most of you, I am still in shock, still not convinced. I now understand the pain and disbelief that drove the Garifuna bard to sing, those of you who can please help me ... (singing in Garifuna)”
Ivan Duran, Friend/Producer
“I believe as his friend, after talking many times over the last few years, and I am convinced that Andy died a very, very, very happy man and I want his children to know that, his family to know that. That Andy was very contended with what had happened in his life.”
Andy’s uncle Dr. Joseph Palacio recounted how Andy, born in 1960 and raised in the village of Barranco, grew up to become the musical inspiration many would come to love.
Dr. Joseph Palacio, Uncle
“He also learnt to appreciate music and singing from his father who was a walking collection of songs in Garifuna, English, Spanish and Latin. From his mother, the anchor who held the family together he received the highest form of love and respect for the immediate and extended family which included the whole of the village. During these early years, therefore, Andy acquired his abiding sense of rootedness in people and things Garifuna.”
“Can the home village continue to produce geniuses like Andy? In my usual sense of optimism, my answer is yes. Of course the economic life of the village has declined very much sine the 1960’s but there still remain, among the members of the community, a vibrant musical tradition that needs to be studied extensively and revitalised.”
Alejandro Colinas, Tour Manager/Sound Engineer
“As a sound engineer I am asking you to turn those radios on, to turn those tape machines on, to blast it up, turn it loud and be proud of his music because that is what he wanted us to do.”
“Andy has given us so much and we must take the path to make his legacy work for the generations of Belizeans to come. Let me say here today to the children of Andy Vivien, you father’s work will never be in vain. You father’s life will be properly remembered. The children of Belize will know your father and learn about your father.”
And one way in which NICH plans to continue that legacy is with the establishment of an Andy Palacio Education Trust in support of his children and an Andy Palacio Music Fund to support and preserve Garifuna music. NICH has pledged ten thousand dollars to each of the accounts and is asking that instead of wreaths and flowers supporters donate money. Proceeds from the sale of CDs and posters at the Bliss this morning will also go to those causes.
The singing and dancing moved from inside the Bliss to the streets of Belize City as Andy’s body, draped in the Belizean flag, set off in a motorcade. With friends and family trailing behind, the procession slowly wound its way to the Municipal Airport.
At the airport, soldiers of the Belize Defence placed Andy’s coffin in a plane bound of Punta Gorda.
When the plane touched down in P.G., Andy’s coffin travelled in another procession to his home village of Barranco where he will be buried following a State Funeral at St. Joseph’s Church. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.
Those interested in contributing to the respective funds established in memory of Andy Palacio, can do so at the Belize Bank, account number 226236 or contact the NICH office at 822-3302 for more information.