The Blacks of Suriname Fight Destruction of Their Paradise

I remember the first time I became familiar with the country of Suriname.  I was listening to a Donnie McClurkin song that is a language medley psalm.  He sings in the language of a number of countries in this beautiful praise song.  Donnie then names Suriname and sings in their language “Surinamese” as he calls it!  Of course, I am intrigued because I had never heard of the country.  Thanks to Donnie McClurkin, who starts my interest in Suriname.   As I began my research, I found out that there is a large population of African people in this country!  Of course I’m surprised and highly interested to know more about my black brothers and sisters, who I found out were black maroons, descendants of those Africans who ran away from brutal South American enslavement on the sugar cane plantations. 

These black people who call themselves the Saramaka struggled and succeeded in rebuilding their culture and life for themselves deep in the rainforests of Suriname.  They fought for and won their liberation from the Dutch, negotiated treaties with the Dutch for ownership of the land which is some of the most unspoiled rain forests in South America.  They have lived their for all these centuries, but no good thing lasts, and the world has finally found the bounty that is Suriname.  

Suriname is a racial mixed country and is a poor nation by western standards.  As the Chinese and others have come in to log the trees, Suriname has been faced with the money they are offered for logging rights and the poverty and underdevelopment of their country.  The government has started selling the rights of the forests to the Chinese and others, who are quickly decimating huge tracts.  Onward, Progress!  

The only problem is that the Saramake owners of the land never gave the government permission to sell out their land rights.  The black folks feel they are the rightful and legal owners and have the ancient treaties to prove it.  Of course the government sees it a bit differently.

These two videos are very informative!! You have to watch them on Youtube though, embed is disabled and popup blocker is in efffect as well.  Keep clicking.   Don’t let that stop you.     🙂

 In terms of their culture, it’s interesting how the Saramaka people structured and build their society after escaping slavery.  Saramaka society is firmly based on matrilineal principles. A clan (lo) – often several thousand individuals – consists of the matrilineal descendants of an original group of liberated ex-slaves. It is subdivided into lineages (bee) – usually 50 to 150 people – descended from a more recent ancestress. Several lineages from a single clan constitute the core of every village.

Land is owned by these matrilineal clans (lo), based on claims staked out in the early eighteenth century as the original Maroons fled southward to freedom. Hunting and gathering rights belong to clan members collectively. Within the clan, temporary rights to land use for farming are negotiated by village headmen. The establishment of transmigration villages in the 1960s led to land shortages in certain regions, but the success of the Saramakas in their lawsuit against the government of Suriname will now permit them to manage their lands with less outside interference.

Matrilineal principles, mediated by divination, determine the inheritance of material and spiritual possessions as well as political offices. Before death, however, men often pass on specialized ritual knowledge to their sons.

The Saramaka people, like the other Maroon groups, are headed by men. The 2007 ruling of the Inter-American Court for Human Rights helps define the spheres of influence in which the national government and Saramaka authorities hold sway.

Saramaka society is strongly Egalitarian, with kinship forming the backbone of social organization. No social or occupational classes are distinguished. Elders are accorded special respect and ancestors are consulted, through divination, on a daily basis.

I’m always amazed by the continuous struggle that my black people have waged for their freedom wherever they are in the world.  We are a people who have a fighting spirit coursing through our veins!  It’s in our blood!

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Lin says:

    My Sista Westsiiiide,

    This page is fast becoming the place I go to get informed, because you took me to school, fo real! I must admit almost all that I’ve read here is brand new info, & apparently I’ve been beyond ignorant when it comes to Suriname. But the struggle they face is all to real & it feels like a sad case of deja vu, which is tragic considering we are living in the year 2010!

    In some ways, their survival sounds like the story of Haiti, & of our brothas & sistas who’ve shaken off the shackels of slavery, to build makeshift (won’t dare say say ‘primitive’) communities based upon pride, collective spirit, hard work, & self-reliance… & yet sadly, still face the struggles & hardships that seem to befall only people of color.

    Really makes one think WTH is going on, and just what can be done to stop this madness, once & for all? If we descend from a people who built The Pyramids, surely collectively, we can manifest the energy, the know-how & the heart required to see that our people, no matter their country, be given a better quality of LIFE!!

    Thanks for the eduMAcation, Sista!

    One.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Sometimes, Brother Lin, I wonder if we are cursed, but my mind always wanders away from that thought. I have a hard time focusing on “we are cursed as black people”.

      But I must say that I don’t know why we are in this situation worldwide. So I leave it in God’s hands and remember that Jesus said that the first will be last, and the last first!

      So I’m expecting a huge blowup kind of heavenly bash where black folks gonna get some extra love and we gonna have all our favorite foods, all the great musicians of our history, and just enjoy each others’ company!
      God’s gonna cordone off a section of heaven just for us to get our heavenly groove on! LOL!

  2. Reggie says:

    Excellent post!!! Very very informative.

  3. Melzie says:

    Gosh, I had noooo idea. One more reminder that I need to get busy reading and researching again. Thanks for enlightening us.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thank Donnie McClurkin! I had no idea either! Many black folks have no idea.
      I know there are more of us in other places too, I just don’t know where…yet!

  4. Qwami Ade says:

    I first learned about our peeps in Suriname via National Geographic articles years ago. Unfortunately I never delved any further into the info. Thanks for pricking my conscious on this topic. I gots some sho nuff homework to get into now. Great Post!!!

  5. Afro-Europe says:

    Very informative post Anne Renee!

    Best,

    Erik

  6. brenda says:

    Hello all. I am a girl who was born in Suriname. I must say that I find it an honor how you interested in Suriname. Thanks to donnie I found this site. I’m a bit late with my response. I’m glad you now know that we are your brothers and sisters also exist.

    Suriname is a great country to live. I live in the Netherlands but very soon I will go back to Suriname.

    Thank you all for the interrese in Suriname. In Suriname we say grangtangi that means thank you.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog, my sister!

  7. Carolyn johnson says:

    Hi, I am a Black American who visited Surinam 36 years ago to do research on the Ndujka people. It is an absolutely gorgeous country and the people are amazing. I met the love of my life there. I have nothing but the best to say about that wonderful country.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      Wow! How beautiful, and romantic as well!

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