Maroon Resilience

Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Portrait of a Maroon woman in front of her hut, dressed in Pangi. Image Source: Tropenmuseum, part of the National Museum of World Cultures [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons.
Sometime ago I found this gem of a movie/documentary on Youtube by Herman van der Horst called Faja Lobi, which translates to “Burning Love”, the name of a popular flower in Suriname, my country. The flower is also commonly known around the world as Ixora.

It shows everyday life in the sixties in my small South American country. And not just everyday “city” life… No, the film starts off by showing a group of Native Americans, who look like they belonged to the Trio ethnic group (but don’t quote me on it). And after that it shows a group of Surinamese Maroons surviving in our portion of the Amazon tropical rain forest.

Maroons are descendants of Africans who were brought to the Americas for slavery, but managed to escape the plantations. In Suriname they settled in the Southern part of the country, that was and still is covered by dense rain forest. From there they attacked the plantations to liberate even more of their comrades, until the Dutch government (at that time Suriname was predominantly a Dutch colony) was forced to sign a peace treaty with them, and thus basically establishing a (black) state within a state.

Today, the Maroons are still “alive and kicking” so to speak, they form one of the largest ethnic groups in our South American nation. Most of their communities still exists, and look and operate like a carbon copy of a 19th century West or Central African village. As we sometimes say, the Surinamese Maroons are Africa’s best kept secret outside of Africa.

Watching the film made me realize even more what they must have been through. Do you know how much skill and knowledge of the river you must have to traverse those wild rapids, and not drown? How did they manage to escape all those years ago? How did they manage to survive, and then go back to attack? It takes pure resilience! It’s beautiful, and I love it!

See the 18:20 mark for the part with the Maroons.

Source: edwardbandison, Youtube.

The rest of the documentary is beautiful as well. It shows the other ethnic groups as well. Like we also say, Suriname is Africa, the Americas and Asia all in one country, and this documentary shows that.

Note: When I went to school in Suriname, we were not allowed to use the word Maroon as it was deemed derogatory. It’s derived from the word cimarrón which means “runaway cattle”.  Hopefully no explanation is needed as to why equating humans to cattle is offensive. However, because I blog in English, and Maroon is the globally accepted term used for Africans who managed to escape the plantations, I’ve also used this term in this post.

I don’t own the rights to the documentary or the image used. I just found them on the internet and thought I’d share..:-)

5 thoughts on “Maroon Resilience

    1. That’s wonderful…! Yes, the documentary is awesome.. they don’t really have dialogues or voice overs in it, but just the visuals are stunning and such a treasure.


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