Johan Ferrier (1910-2010), the first president of post-independence Suriname, has died at his home in the Netherlands at the age of 99. Ferrier’s daughter, Joan Ferrier, told the Wereldomroep radio network that her father died in his sleep last night.
Born John Henri Eliza Ferrier, he was a teacher, short story writer, trade union leader, and radio pioneer who in 1946 helped found the National Party of Suriname, when Suriname was still a Dutch colony. Always dedicated to education, he defended the rights to education for the children of East Indian and Javanese contract workers living in remote plantation districts who had very few opportunities. In the 1950s, Ferrier was the Netherlands Council Adviser to the Minister of Education, Arts and Sciences. He was governor from 1968 until Suriname gained independence on November 25, 1975, when he became the country’s first president. A military coup led by Desi Bouterse in 1980 brought his presidency to an end, after which he moved with his family to the Netherlands. In 2000, Ferrier was hailed as “Politician of the Century.”
Having heard stories passed on through generations in his family, in 2002 he published his successful Creole Anansiboek [The Anansi Book], based on stories of Anansi, the clever spider. Anansi is a popular “trickster” figure in the folklore of parts of West Africa that traveled with slaves to the Caribbean.
For full article (in Dutch), see http://www.nrc.nl/buitenland/article2450501.ece/Oud-president_Suriname_Ferrier_overleden
See short article (in English) at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/breakingnews/80621337.html