Africa’s best kept secret outside of Africa

Mè-oe-mè from the village Keementi, with scarification, amulets and all. Just beautiful. Source: Collectie Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen, Objectnumber 60050642, 1952

As I have mentioned numerous times before on this blog, the Surinamese people of African descent have preserved a lot of their African culture and heritage.  The Surinamese Maroons (descendants of Africans who managed to escape the plantations) especially are what I would call “Africa’s best kept secret outside of Africa”. I’m constantly amazed by them.  Maybe in future blogs I will delve further into their history, the wars they had to fight to establish their own  independent “states within a state”. But for now, these documentaries will have to do.

In the first one, the host searches for “bizarre” foods across the world. In Suriname, he mostly conducts his search within the Saamaka (Maroon subgroup) community. If you didn’t know this was somewhere in South America, you would think this was somewhere in rural West or Central Africa. I love it..:-)

Source Bizarre Foods on Youtube

The second video is a travel documentary which highlights some of the largest ethnic groups within the country, and thus also the Maroons and other people of African descent. At 06:21 you can see a market full of herbal medicine, mostly sold and used by Surinamese of African descent. At 17:23, you can see the host visit a Maroon village, and shortly thereafter, at the 23:35 mark you can see another, in my opinion very important symbol of black resilience being featured: the “angisa”, the Afro Surinamese version of the headwrap or Gele. Just click on the subtitles button on the bottom right for the english subtitles.

Update: The video was pulled from Yotube. This is another link to the video, however, this one does not have English subtitles :-(. Just click on the link, click on “alle afleveringen” and in ‘Zoeken’ , search for Suriname.

Erica op Reis


6 thoughts on “Africa’s best kept secret outside of Africa

  1. Love this post.That belly scarification is still alive today in many family, some as written date of birth. Quite a few of my cousins have palm tree (girls) a lizard (for boys) on their stomach. None of m siblings as my dad don’t see the need for modern time – I agree with you that once healed they look beautiful.

    The first video reminds me of David Attenborough’s 70s video of cassava bread of an ethnic group somewhere in S America, probable the same people as this one. Cassava is sure a super food, there are so many varieties and many uses. I am going to try making that bread one day when I am home, looks effortless and feeds the family.

    Thank you for sharing that…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow… yes, these days you only see scarifications on older Maroon women as well. In the first video, I remember seeing one of the older ladies (she was also cooking) with scarification around her mouth. From what I’ve heard and read, the Maroons use them as beautification, but the scarification is also supposed to be touched by the husband of a Maroon woman during sexual intercourse. It’s called Kaaba in the Samaaka language.

      Liked by 1 person

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