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The Suriname-Saramaccan community in the Netherlands has installed four new captains to preside over Saramaccans in four different cities in the Netherlands. The captains will not only represent their individual communities before sections of the Dutch government, such as health care institutions, they will also serve as an oracle and guide to new Saramaccan immigrants in the Netherlands. A detailed job description for the new captains is yet to be determined.
The ceremonies that took place last Saturday at the Stopera in Amsterdam, were the result of the combined forces of the Collective of Saramaccan Authorities in the Netherlands and the SIO (Surinaams Inspraak Orgaan), a pressure group of Suriname immigrants aiming to contribute to decision making processes in Dutch government.
(Photo left: The four newly inaugurated Saramaccan captains. From right to left: Monti Puketi, Kensly Vrede, Sylvester Aboikoni and Morea King, the only female captain. The practical content of their authoritative function (in plain words: how they will serve their individual communities), is yet to be determined. dWt photo / Stuart Rahan)
Belfon Aboikoni, chief of the Saramaccans, traveled from Suriname to the Netherlands to personally witness the ceremonies. One of the four newly instated leaders is the chief’s cousin, Sylvester Aboikoni.
The ceremonies comprised a variety of traditional practices, including the swearing of an oath by each of the new captains. Under steady guidance of an ‘apintie’-drum, the new captains had their legs smeared with sacred white ‘pimba’ clay, the crown of their heads was wrapped in white cotton cloth, and there was a libation with alcoholic beverages.
The Amsterdam Stopera was fully adorned with traditional ‘pangi’s’ (Maroon loincloths). Because of the cold weather, the attending men wore suits underneath their traditional clothing, while the women presented themselves in African styled gowns.