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.

Voordruk apr10 TA14 stuurmans

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


Visiting A Maroon Village In Suriname – Vacation

If you feel inspired to make a trip to a maroon village in Suriname, which I highly recommend, there are some basic concepts you need to understand in order make your visit as memorable as possible.

bakaa-boto-local-village-nearby Continue reading

Slave rebellion leader Boni – Suriname – Alukus

In Suriname Boni is the most famous slave rebel leader. His story is taught in school and everybody in Suriname knows about Boni.

(Please note that the Boni war was going on after the Ndyuka & Saamaka already made peace treaties with the Dutch colonials )


Continue reading

Suriname African Heritage – religion. Anana, Aisa, winti

Winti(ween tee)

Religious practices also survived. It is still being practiced by creoles in the city and maroons in the interior.

In Suriname we call it Winti.

I will briefly explain the Winti.

Winti, term, is sort of a catch phrase for spirit, spiritual, religion.


Anana(ah nah nah) is the main god or creator but you can only reach him through his lesser gods.

There are 4 groups of lesser gods: god of the earth, god of the water, god of the forest, and god of the air or wind

Aisa(eye sah), mother god of the earth,  is the highest and is considered closest to Anana. Which is why at most Winti rituals or payers begin with an offering or odo(oh doh) to Aisa, hoping that she will intervene on your behalf regarding many issues, such as healing, protection, or general blessing.

Winti is still practiced by maroons & creoles alike. The majority of creoles however are Christian, but the Winti religion still survives. Many maroons are also Christian but I’m not sure about the ratio. I do believe that the Saamaka are the largest Christian maroon group.

One of the most common prayers to Aisa, which everyone in Suriname has heard on many occasions is as follows:

Mama Aisa, gorong winti,
gorong gado,
A pikin suku yepi.

Mother Aisa, spirit of the earth,
god of the earth,
Your children are seeking your help.

This prayer is often accompanied by sprinkling an odo, offering, to the earth, usually some strong alcoholic drink.

The prayer sounds like this:

One personal note about this song.  In my opinion this song’s melody bears a slight resemblance to the African American spiritual “Deep River”.  Searh google: Deep River – Paul Robeson

One can often witness a Winti Prei,(Ween tee pray) which is a ritual prayer ceremony accompanied by drums, where you can see participants get in trance and perform supernatural acts, such as dancing barefoot on broken glass, on hot coals, eating glass and more, without any physical damage or cuts to the skin.

They cover part of their bodies with pemba doti(pih m bah doh tee), a white clay powder, (kaolin) which they believe will bring them closer to the god(s).

Example of a Winti Prei:

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.

Estimated Suriname Maroon Population Census 2014

Here is the latest census estimate for Suriname maroons.

Please note that the maroons living in Guyane(French Guyana) consider themselves Surinamese mostly. They are descendents of the Aluku(Boni), Ndyuka & Saamaka. They live in the border regions of Guyane & Suriname along the Marowijne and Lawa Rivers. Maripa Soela(soula) & Maripa Stong are the biggest concentrations there.