Suriname Maroon Life Basics

The maroon villages in Suriname are very orderly, no crimes to speak of. There is hierarchical authority chain that is very much respected.

It is when the young ones leave for the city that they sometimes act out of character. It’s sort of like when young college student first leaves the authority of his parents to go study in a different State in the US or even different country.

Let’s look at the basic structure of typical maroon villages’:

Maroon political organization is organized around the lo (matri-clan), which is made up of various bee (lit.: belly), a group of descendants of one living mother or grandmother. Traditional leaders are locally appointed, usually after spiritual consultation and according to traditional descend-rules. The paramount chief is called granman (gaanman). Each lo is headed by a head-captain (Edekabiten), and each village is headed by one or more Kapiteins (Kabiten), representing the village lo’s. The Granman and Kapiteins are assisted by Basias who take care of administrative matters. Traditional authorities receive a public salary and are accountable to the district commissioner. Even though their status is not legally recognized, government officials tend to respect their position.
Traditional carving (rice plate) In both Maroon societies, decision-making about issues affecting the entire village is based on consent and may take days of gatherings or krutus . Traditional authorities and elderly facilitate these meetings, but usually anyone may speak out. Krutus also serve to solve conflicts between different village members. In these cases, the captain or head-captain serves as a judge on respectively the village and lo levels, assisted by Basias and village elderly. Discussions, negotiations, and sometimes divination are employed to seek solutions, which may include a public beating, a fine, or an arrangement with the aggrieved party.

Krutus(kutu) are very important part of maroon societies and have been known to occasionally last over a day. It is a very respectful meeting where the speaker is not interrupted. No cross talk.

Here is part of a krutu, where all the representatives are present and have a chance raise concerns or ask questions. In this case there was a legal case they were going to bring regarding their land rights, which are not being honored by the Govt. (and sadly never have been. The Govt basically sells mining & logging rights to multinational companies right through their territories.) :

Click here if you feel inspired to make a trip to a maroon village.

Modern challenges of Suriname Maroons.

While many maroons choose to stay true to their traditional way of life, many are opting for the modern conveniences of city life but not without adverse consequences.

The strength of the maroon societies is their hierarchical authority system. Those who are opting for city life live outside the bounds of this authority and are as a result affected by all the ills of modern society, such as drug use, crime etc.

The maroons are facing a big challenge in this regard and there seem to be no easy solutions.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s