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Paul Nabor: Remembering a Belizean Legend

Paul Nabor is the greatest living Paranda artist. He is not only considered a musical legend among the Garifuna, he is also the “Buyei” (religious leader of his community). Sadly, he is also the last living Parandero in Punta Gorda. Punta Gorda (locals call it PG) is a small coastal village in southern Belize.

With mountains to the west, and the Caribbean sea to the east, there is only one dirt road to PG: A long bumpy 5 hour drive from the center of the country. At 70, Nabor still spends many of his days at sea fishing, evenings playing his guitar, all while working as spiritual leader for his community. He often talks about how life has changed for the Garifuna. “Growing up, we got all we needed from the earth. We fished, we farmed. We picked coconuts, made our own instruments. Occasionally we’d trade for new clothes. That was it. After the introduction of ‘money’ things changed. People now feel that they need ‘more and more stuff, things’. More and more Garifuna keep moving to the cities where they are unhappy since they’ve lost touch with the land.”

Paul Nabor is no longer in good health, though he continues to work a full schedule of fishing, playing guitar, and leading his congregation. Nabor wrote the moving, “Naguya Nei” when his sister was on her deathbed. She had asked to be remembered in song at her funeral. The song has become almost an anthem in Punta Gorda. Nabor has expressed that he would like the funeral procession to sing this song at his burial as well.

UPDATE: The great Paul Nabor has passed away on October 22, 2014, at the age of 86. His memory will live on and continue to be celebrated throughout Belize. Thank you to a great pioneer in keeping a part our culture alive!

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