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André Pakosie was born in 1955 in the village of Diitabiki (Drietabbetje), the capital of the Suriname Ndyuka nation, amidst a family of herbal and spiritual leaders. He was educated as a phytopharmacist, a herbal doctor, and initially practiced his profession at his native village, where in 1980 he founded the health center Sabanapeti.
Forced to leave Suriname in the mid 1980’s – due to the civil war between Maroon leaders and the military government – he relocated to the Netherlands. He reopened his health center in Utrecht, now under the name of Fytotheek Pakosie, and took his passion for Maroon culture to new levels through the launch of the Sabanapeti Foundation.
Through the Sabanapeti Foundation and its twice yearly published magazine Siboga, Pakosie spreads cultural and historical awareness regarding Maroons. He also promotes the rights of Maroon nations. Annually, Sabanapeti hosts a festive conference called Mitiimakandii Dei (Meeting Day). Proceeds of all Sabanapeti’s activities are awarded to projects that support the development of Maroon communities in Suriname.
André Pakosie has often been lauded for his achievements. Some years ago, he received the Gaaman Gazon Matodja Award and was honorably decorated by the president of Suriname and the queen of the Netherlands. 2010 marks a special year for him, as the annual Maroon Day – which Pakosie devised and launched in 1974 – will be a national holiday in Suriname for the first time.
AbengCentral contacted André Pakosie to ask him about his life, his career and the position of Maroons in Suriname today.