Lebeha Drumming Center: Learning Garifuna Culture & Art

by Carolee Chanona

The mystery and history of Belize’s Garifuna people are subtle reminders of the impression a small society can make within a much larger one. Belize, a robust community of cultures, continues to celebrate this alluring diversity through art. For example, the Toledo District is associated with the Maya, while Stann Creek District continues to host its thriving population of the Garifuna. While in Stann Creek, be sure to visit Hopkins for the Lebeha Drumming Center – an immersive and educational experience into Garifuna culture and art.

Lebeha Drumming Center

Established in 2002 by Jabbar Lambey and Dorothy Petterson, the Lebeha Drumming Center aims to sustain Garifuna musical traditions. Namely, ensuring their continuity of culture, traditions, and practices to the next generation, while educating others. The Center, aptly named after its focus on drums, also highlights an array of guitars, maracas, and more. It is not a therapeutic drum circle, nor is it the more commercial Punta Rock style. Rather, a cocktail-shaker-full of African and South American Indian ingredients. For these efforts, Lebeha Drumming Center received a 2006 Grammy nomination in “Traditional Music” 2006 for a CD titled “Traditional Garifuna Music.”

The Name “Lebeha”

Meaning “the end” in Garifuna, the center is located at the edge of Hopkins Village – by design. While drumming is a daily activity in the village, weekends and evenings become more lively. Visiting Lebeha means you can actively partake alongside Garifuna students practicing and performing on the drums. If you’re more of a listener than a doer, don’t fret; you can also support Lebeha through donations and purchasing their drumming CDs. Besides being a talented hub of musical traditions and dance routine, no trip to Hopkins is complete without Lebeha.

Lebeha Drumming Center Garifuna

Feature Image Courtesy The Belize Tourism Board 

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