Djuka, the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Djuka, the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Djuka, the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Djuka, the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Excerpt

I first met the Djukas in St. Laurent, which is the prison port of French Guiana, and the centre of the penitentiary system which is popularly known as the Devil's Island Penal Colony.

The Djukas come in to St. Laurent from the jungle. They come to trade jungle rubber and timber for bright beads and gunpowder and fish-hooks and the brilliant lengths of calico which they use as loin-cloths. When they have made their purchases they often pause on their way back to the canoes which they have left moored at the bank of the wide coppercoloured river which separates French from Dutch Guiana. They pause outside the penitentiary gates and stare at the French convicts as they are marched out to the hard labour which is part of their prison sentence.

And I could have had no more dramatic introduction than this to the wild free Djukas of the Guiana jungle.

The convicts march with the listless feet of diseased, under- nourished, hopeless men. They are sad and silent. The Djukas stand erect, confident, and free. In the primitive communism of their forest life, they recognize no masters. It is in every Djuka's power to live as well as does every other Djuka. There is just enough social organization to keep order in the tribe and no more. There are no anarchists among them. No . . .

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