Michael Stone looks back on the life of Paul Nabor

Garifuna singer and Belizean national cultural treasure Paul Nabor (January 26, 1928—October 22, 2014) died on 22 October 2014 at the Punta Gorda town hospital. Nabor had been hospitalized in January 2014 for pneumonia and dehydration, had been in poor health for some time, and on October 12 suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. From the coastal village of Barranco, Toledo District, Belize, Paul Nabor (born Alfonso Palacio) or “Nabi” was best known as a singer and writer of Garifuna paranda songs, a ballad form accompanied on guitar and percussion. Like many Garifuna men, forced by socioeconomic circumstance to migrate in search of work, Nabor lived his life between Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Nabor had been a boxer in his younger years (his assumed name comes from his days as a pugilist). At home in Belize, Nabi was a fisherman, sailor (in his hand-built dory), traditional farmer, herbalist, and Garifuna buyei or priest and spirit medium, presiding at dügü rituals at his dabuyaba or Garifuna temple. Spanish-Canadian filmmaker Katia Paradis’ award-winning documentary Three Kings of Belize (Amazone Films 2007 – see below) offers a touching portrait of Nabor, along with brukdown accordion king (Wilfred) “Mr. Peters” and Maya traditionalist Florencio Mess, two fellow masters of Belizean roots music.

When singer Andy Palacio was recording Keimoun (1995), producer Ivan Duran asked him about the origin of one of the songs. Palacio responded that is was by uncle, Paul Nabor. Duran asked to meet Nabor, the genesis of his recording career, beginning at age of 71 with the Stonetree Records documentary compilation Paranda: Africa in Central America (1999), and subsequently with the Garifuna Collective.

Read more: http://www.rootsworld.com/0603123/news/nabor14.shtmlPhoto: Michael Stone ©2014

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