African Roots in Surinam

The Maroons of South America

Intro: Hello everyone, I’m Alex Gutierrez, from Sacramento California, welcome to AFROSAYA the Afro-Latino Podcast.

Afrosaya, Afrolatino, Afro-surinamese

Today in our show, we will continue with our journey through South America. As we intent, this is a podcast about Blackness in the Americas. We will share a little bit of history, music, culture and more. 

Our guess for today is Surinam. Let’s do it.

Content – History Background:

Today in our show, we will talk about Suriname, the smallest country in South America. 

Suriname, once was known as Dutch Guiana. It enjoys a relatively high standard of living, but also faces serious political and economic challenges. Since their independence from the Netherlands in 1975 Suriname faces serious challenges, among them a civil war. 

Suriname is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the Americas.Surinam was a Dutch plantation colony in the Guianas, neighbored by the equally Dutch colony of Berbice to the west, and the French colony of Cayenne to the east. 

Surinam was a Dutch colony from 1667, when Dutch forces occupied the territory until 1954, when Surinam became a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

The status quo of Dutch sovereignty over Surinam, and English sovereignty over New Netherland, was kept in the Treaty of Breda and again confirmed in the Treaty of Westminster.

After the other Dutch colonies in the Guianas, were lost to the British in 1814, the remaining colony of Surinam was often referred to as Dutch Guiana, especially after 1831, when the British merged Berbice, Essequibo, and Demerara into British Guiana. 

The colonization of Surinam is marked by slavery. Plantations relied on slave labour, mostly supplied by the Dutch West India Company from its trading posts in West Africa, to produce their crops.

Sugar, cotton, and indigo were the main goods exported from the colony to the Netherlands until the early 18th century, when coffee became the single most important export product of Surinam. 

Slaves as elsewhere were treated notoriously bad—and many slaves escaped the plantations.

The Amsterdam stock market crash of 1773 dealt a severe blow to the plantation economy, which was further exacerbated by the British abolition of slave trade in 1807.

This abolition was adopted by William I of the Netherlands, who signed a royal decree in 1814, and who concluded the Anglo-Dutch Slave Trade Treaty in May 1818.

Many plantations went bankrupt as a consequence of the abolition of slave trade. Without supply of slaves, many plantations were merged to increase efficiency.

Slavery was eventually abolished in 1863, although slaves were only released after a ten-year transitory period in 1873. 

This spurred the immigration of indentured labourers from British India, after a treaty to that effect had been signed between the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in 1870. Apart from immigration from British India, Javanese workers from the Dutch East Indies were also contracted to work on plantations in Surinam. At the same time, a largely unsuccessful attempt to colonize Surinam with impoverished farmers from the Netherlands started as well. 

Content: Afro-Latinidad

Let’s talk about Afro-Surinamese

Afro-Surinamese are citizens of Suriname. They are descended from slaves brought to work on sugar plantations. Many of them escaped the plantations and formed independent settlements together, becoming known as Maroons. 

They maintained their African culture and language.Most of the slaves imported to Suriname came from Central Africa, Ghana and Benin. Thousands of slaves also arrived from Senegambia and Sierra Leone 

The Akans from the central Ghana were, officially, the predominant slave group in Suriname. 

However, the largest group of slaves in Suriname since 1670 were  slaves from The Kingdom of Loango, which was a pre-colonial African state, during approximately the 16th to 19th centuries in what is now the western part of the Republic of the Congo and Cabinda

Enslaved people including the Ewe (who live in southern Ghana, Togo and Benin), Yoruba (from Benin and Kongo (who live in the Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola), all left their cultural footprints in Suriname…

… They won an important case in 2007 at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ruled they had rights to their traditional lands.

Well people there you have it. Afro-Surinamese 

If you want to get our transcript email us here

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