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Suriname last Wednesday once again enjoyed many activities related to the annual celebration of Maroon Day. From the principal festivities location at the village of Berlijn, to the capital town of Paramaribo and beyond, thousands of visitors were drawn to the events. Traditional Maroon music and dance set the rhythm at all of the celebrations, and of course there were speeches and libations.
Maroon Day 2012 started off with the customary ‘prodowaka’- parade in Paramaribo – a semi-formal procession where members of all Maroon nations demonstrate their historical and cultural heritage through drum playing, song and dance while proceeding through the city streets.
Edward Troon, a journalist for Starniews, reports: “The parade is a vivid illustration of past struggles. Some of the women have tied knots in their skirts, a custom exclusively reserved for going to battle”.
At the Palmentuin in Paramaribo crowds gathered for the annual Fair of Maroon life styles and customs. As a first this year, a craft market was set up to showcase the handiwork of women. Women’s organization Mafondo established this venue in hopes of stimulating entrepreneurship among Maroon women. In an interview with NoSpang, Mafondo’s president Nolda King said: “We want to educate women about their abilities to generate income. The clothes they make for private use also have commercial appeal.”
Maroon Day 2012 communicated the concept of ‘power through unity’. This theme was chosen in accordance with the new mission of the organizing committee (the Foundation ‘October 10th 1760’). The foundation aims to promote collaboration among Suriname’s six Maroon nations.
The annual celebrations in Suriname commemorate the signing of the first peace treaty between a Maroon nation and the colonial Dutch government on October 10th 1760. Although the Ndyuka nation can take credit for this historical deed, the present celebrations are meant to highlight the struggles and achievements of all Maroon nations in the country. This includes, most notably, the signing of two other peace treaties (in 1762 with the Saamaka, and in 1767 with the Matawai).