GHANA MAY SUPPORT SURINAME MAROON COMMUNITIES

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A post by Peter Jordens.

Ray Chickrie reports for Caribbean News Now that Ghana’s ambassador to Suriname, Abena Pokua Adompim Busia, recognized much of her country in the culture and traditions of Suriname during a visit to the village of Compagniekreek in [the district of] Brokopondo, in what she described as a very “emotional” experience.

Ghana shares many historical and cultural ties with Suriname. A large number of people were captured from what is now Ghana and Benin and sold into slavery in Suriname during the Dutch period. Eventually, a large number of Africans escaped the bondage of slavery and established self-governing [Maroon] communities in the interior of the country. This allowed them to preserve their unique bonds with West Africa and especially with Ghana.

The non-resident Ambassador presented her credentials to President Desi Bouterse last week. The diplomat told the President that she will look into the possibility of building stronger relationships with Suriname. She is committed to a deeper cultural exchange between the two countries.

The Ghanaian Ambassador was accompanied during her trip to Brokopondo by her Brazilian counterpart, Laudemar Gonsalves. The Ambassador indicated that she had waited 15 years for this moment to visit the Maroon communities of Suriname. Busia said she was very impressed with the beauty of the district and felt at home in Brokopondo. The Ambassador is open to further development of the district, especially for tourism and other economic activities, the National Information Institute reported.

The Maroon communities have remained in poverty, where little health care and education and job opportunities exist in their communities. This has led many of them to migrate to the capital city of Paramaribo. Many see them as “backward, unwilling to leave their ancestral land and lazy”, according to an insensitive narrative on the part of a “tour” guide who works with Bergendal Resort during a visit to a Maroon community in the interior.

The District Commissioner of Brokopondo, Kenya Pansa, was gratified that the Ambassador visited the district immediately after she presented her credentials to President Bouterse.

Ambassador Busia is a Ghanaian writer, poet, feminist, lecturer and diplomat. She is a daughter of former Ghanaian head of state Kofi Abrefa Busia. She is an associate professor of English Literature and of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and is currently Ghana’s Ambassador to Brazil, Guyana and Suriname. She has lived in the Netherlands, the UK and Mexico.

For the original news item, go to https://wp.caribbeannewsnow.com/2018/08/06/ghana-may-support-suriname-maroon-communities.

The above photo, sourced from the National Information Institute of Suriname, shows Ghanaian Ambassador Abena Pokua Adompim Busia, Brazilian Ambassador Laudemar Gonçalves, and Surinamese Commissioner Kenya Pansa of Brokopondo District.

The following two fragments from the documentary Katibo Yeye (2003) may help illustrate some of the connections between Surinamese Maroons (in particular in the village of Adampay) and the Akan of Ghana (in this case in the coastal town of Kormantse): ‘Surinam meets Ghana’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-3Z1KbYUj4 (part 1, 6 minutes) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kv_T30rqo0Y (part 2, 8 minutes).

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