Belize and Taiwan celebrate friendship with colorful concert

The concert included 13 songs, dance performances and ended on a high note with a rendition of “We are the World”

Three decades of friendship between Belize and Taiwan is celebrated (CATO photo)

Three decades of friendship between Belize and Taiwan is celebrated (CATO photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Belize and Taiwan jointly hosted a concert to celebrate 30 years of friendship and ended the evening with a Belizean traditional ritual dance and the classic song, "We Are the World," on Thursday evening (Oct. 17) at National Taiwan University of Arts.

To mark three decades of diplomatic relations between Belize and Taiwan, the Central America Trade Office (CATO) is hosting a series of cultural events. The concert on Thursday was hosted by Belizean band Garifuna Collective and the Chinese Music Department of National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA).

Attendees included the Ambassador of Belize, Diane Haylock; Director-General of the Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Taiwan, Tah-Ray Yui; and the president of NTUA​​​​​​ Chen Chih-cheng.

Tah-Ray Yui (left), Diane Haylock, and Chen Chih-cheng (CATO photo)

In her introduction, Haylock said, “The Garifuna is one of Belize’s ethnic groups. In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed the language, dance and music of the Garifuna people an intangible cultural heritage of humanity and inscribed it on its Representative List in 2008.”

“Our relations have evolved into a meaningful, steadfast and everlasting friendship. The people of Belize know for sure that we can count on our good friend, Taiwan; the people of Taiwan can be equally sure that you can count on your good friend, Belize,” Haylock announced.

Garifuna Collective has performed in over 30 countries on five continents and contributed to the critically acclaimed “Wátina” album, a recipient of the Womex and BBC World Music Award and was voted by Amazon as the “Number One World Music Album of All Time.” The concert included 13 songs, including Chinese traditional music such as, “Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix” (百鳥朝鳳) played by Lin Yu-pong (林裕朋) on the suona (嗩吶), and the Belizean band’s signature “Wátina” sounds.

“We are The World” was the final highlight of the concert. When the song began many of the audience members took out their phones and turned on their flash lights to create a sea of light, waving and singing together.

A dancer dressed in traditional costume and wearing a mask also performed the wanaragua dance, which according to CATO is a, “Masked dance ritual that takes place as part of the New Year’s celebration among Garífuna villages on the Caribbean coast of Central America."

A dancer performs the wanaragua dance (CATO photo)