Rebel Destiny: Among the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Rebel Destiny: Among the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Rebel Destiny: Among the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Rebel Destiny: Among the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana

Excerpt

The pages that follow describe scenes in the lives of a Negro people living in isolation in the interior of Dutch Guiana, South America. These Negroes are the descendants of runaway slaves imported from Africa, who took refuge in the dense Guiana bush and established African villages along the rivers whose rapids are their fortifications. The end of the seventeenth century already found these Negroes in constantly growing numbers up the Suriname River, and before the middle of the next century they were sufficiently organized to make repeated raids on the plantations for guns and gunpowder, for machetes and women. Several campaigns were conducted against them, but eventually final treaties were concluded with the Dutch owners of the colony, which guaranteed them their freedom. Today when a Bush Negro drinks with a white man his toast is "Free!"

Three tribal groups go to make up this Bush Negro population. The Saramacca tribe, of whom we write, is found in the heart of the colony along the upper reaches of the Suriname River (called by the Bush Negroes the "Saramacca," and hence so named in this book), and farther south along the Gran Rio and the Pikien Rio. This tribe has had the least contact with outside influences, and it is the Saramacca language which differs most from that spoken by the Negroes of the coastal region. The second is the Awka tribe, found mainly along the Marowyne (Maroni) River, which forms the boundary between French and Dutch Guiana; there are in addition several Awka villages on the lower Suriname. The third tribe, the Boni . . .

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