Pablo Inés "Yura" Flores Suazo: Garífuna Musician
Yura sounds the conch shell, a traditional Garífuna musical instrument. Photo credit: Drew Irwin.
Stepping into the Art World
My name is Yura. It’s my artistic name. My official name is Pablo. A lot of people don’t know that my name is Pablo. Everybody knows me as Yura.

I was barely 12 years old when I took my first step into the artistic world. It was in 1975 at a carnival festival in La Ceiba. That city is about 20 km. from my home town. I’m originally from Sambo Creek in Belize. When they took me to the festival, they chose the best máscaro dancers from my community. There were 18 or 20 youngsters. They held a competition and the judges had to choose the best dancers. I was one of the winners that year. That was my first artistic experience.

After that, I went away to study. I abandoned my artistic undertakings at that time because I hadn’t grown up. I began to play soccer in my country’s professional league. I gained a lot of experience, but the soccer profession wasn’t paying very well in 1988. So, I enrolled in the School of Fine Arts and worked with the National Garífuna Ballet. I gained a lot of experience that way. I traveled a lot in Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. But there came a time when that two year cycle was over.

Maintaining our Culture
We Garífuna have to fight to maintain our identity. Thus, one of my quests is to be able to answer the questions: What does it mean to be Garífuna? What is Garífuna music? We want people to know that it is an identity -- roots that we have from Africa. Through our language and religion, we've been maintaining our Garífuna traditions. One of my dreams, my greatest desire, is to record my own CD. That's so the entire world can hear that we too produce good material.

Since 1994, I've had my own musical group. I feel with all my heart that we have an enormous imagination. An artist needs a great imagination and should experiment. I make all of the arrangements. I create the songs and develop the choreography. Each song has its own name, title, and deals with our communities' history.

Now, the question is "How are our young people doing?" How do we maintain our communities' values? We’ve lost many of our traditions and customs. We need to continue working to be able to maintain the image of our culture.
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Credit: Interview and transcription by InCorpore Cultural Association© with Pablo Inés "Yura" Flores; La Ceiba, Honduras; June 1998. All rights reserved. Edited and translated by K.Stevens, Stanford Center for Latin American Studies, 3/1/00.