Suriname Maroons Making A Dugout Canoe – Video

When it comes to traversing the rivers and rapids in the Amazon jungles there is no better or more robust mode of transportation than the dugout canoe.

For the maroons and the indians, the dugout has been the primary mode of transportation for centuries.

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Here you can see the process of making a dugout canoe. Continue reading


Suriname Maroons Stringed Instruments From Africa, Banjo History, Bania, Agwado, Bolon

The story of the Banjo underscores for me the reason why I started this blog. It shows pretty clearly, in my opinion, how interconnected the culture and history of the African diaspora is in the New World.

Thanks to John Gabriel Stedman we have a good idea of what instruments the slaves in Suriname played. Stedman was a mercenary, hired to fight against the maroons in Suriname during the mid 18th century maroon wars.

Here is a drawing from Stedman of Instruments he encountered in Suriname in 1776:

Instruments_musique_noirs_guyane.jpeg Continue reading

Suriname Maroon Art – Wood Carving – Houtsnijwerk

Saamaka, Adiante Franszoon, Wood Carving video(Houtsnijwerk).

Adiante Franszoon was born in the interior of Suriname along the Brazilian border. He was raised in the Saramacca Maroon tribe in one of the many communities established by former slaves who moved from the coast of Suriname to the Amazon rain forest in the early 1700s and learned to carve as a young boy growing up in the village of Dangogo. Adiante came to the United States in the early 1970’s to get an American education and presently resides in Baltimore, Maryland where he carries on the traditional Maroon carving of his ancestors. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, and at the Black History Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

Stories Of Suriname Slavery Time In Song – Faja Siton

Some stories survive in song because they are funny and some songs survive because they are cruel. “Faja Sitong” is an example of the latter.

This is now a children’s song in both Surinam and Holland and in Surinam it’s also part of a game. Yet many in both Surinam and Holland do not really know the origin of this song.

This is the real story behind Faja Siton.

During slavery time in Suriname there was a coffee plantation, run by a slave master named Jan (called Masra Jantjie).

During the harvest the slaves had a certain quota of coffee beans to bring in. If you were short of your quota, Masra Jantjie, would make a fire into which he would put stones. When the stones where really hot, those slaves had to stand in a circle and were than forced to pick up the stone and pass it around the other slaves. If any of them dropped the stone they would get a severe beating!

The name of the song “Faja Sitong” literally means hot stone

Faja Sitong

Faja si ton no bron mi so, no bron mi so
agen masra Jantj’e kiri soema pikin,
agen masra Jantj’e kiri soema pikin.

Hot stone don’t burn me se don’t burn me so

again masra Jantjie is killing someone’s son/daughter
again masra Jantjie is killing someone’s son/daughter

Stories Of Suriname Slavery Time In Song – Peroen Peroen Mi Patron

Some  stories from slavery time in Suriname are very well known. So well known and common that they are found in songs we sing without even giving it a second thought.

One of those song is “Peroen Peroen Mi Patron”

One morning in the year 1799, a Guide, which stood on the lookout, saw some English warships sailing in the river. He made alarm. then began to tell other Guides to pass this message to each other. After the commander of the fortress, Peroen, was notified of this, he proclaimed “Let, come what will. I will have the English squadron in such a wreck, that they will return to the ocean on nothing but boards “.
Meanwhile the squadron, commanded by Hugh Seymour and Thomas Trigge, approached the Fortress unhindered  and instead of resistance Peroen decided to surrender.

This story became a song of ridicule towards the commander, Peroen.

“Peroen Peroen Mi Patron”

‘Sien, san dee na mofo sien dee kom,
Peroen, Peroen, mi patron?’

(Do you see what’s coming down the river, Peroen?)

‘San wani kom, mik a kom:
Ingrisiman sa tjari pranga
Go na jobo pan!’

(“Let, come what will. I will have the English squadron in such a wreck, that they will return to the ocean on nothing but boards “.)

‘Bakoeba, Bakoeba, kaserie, kaserie,
Nimo, nimo, jaâsabo.’
‘Bosro ma pinka
Bosro ma bo!’

(He surrendered and baked them cakes)

‘Ala dem grikiebie
din sab’na fien fien wroko,
O Codjo, Codjo, fai dom,
joe dom so kita, kita, kai koi!’

(The small bird knows his work, how to use the wind – meaning: You as a captain don’t know what you are doing, while the birds do – Codjo how are you so dumb? Peroen’s name is substituted for Codjo, which according to tradition was the name given to someone born on a Monday and was considered dumb )

‘Sien, san dee na mofo sien dee kom’

(Do you see what’s coming down the river?)

This is the song the slaves & creoles sung among themselves, no doubt with much laughter, and it survived to this day.

Today this song is part of a kids game in Suriname:

Suriname Maroon Art

The maroons in Suriname are masters when in comes to wood carving. With just a simple knife they seem to effortlessly create pieces of art. The motifs do have a meaning, and they are different for each piece. These motifs are also called tembe (tihm bih).

Here are some typical pieces that you are likely to see in souvenir shops.

You can clearly see the African influence in these pieces:

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