|Aluku or Boni|
|Native to||French Guiana, Suriname|
|unknown (33 cited 1980 census)|
It is also the eponymous term for their language, which may have more than 5,000 speakers, however the 1980 census in French Guiana did not reveal exact counts, as many of the responders were also bilingual with French. The language is now in danger of extinction.
The Aluku (the word is pronounced ah-loo-koo) are a legendary ethnic group in French Guiana originally from Suriname descendants of African slaves from majorities of Gold Cost (present Ghana), also known as rebels or Bushinengué (bush negro), also called Maroons, who escaped from Dutch plantations in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, established in the former British then Dutch colonies in today Suriname. They speak a variant of the Aluku language, and a Paramaka variant of the Ndyuka language.
Sometime after the Ndyuka, the Aluku (also named Boni) came. Boni is a name taken from one of their former notorious leader Bokilifu Boni (described as a former mulatto slave). Sinking, slowly, in the Amazonian forest, they finally settled in the end of the eighteenth century along side the riverbanks tributary of Lawa Maroni, now forming the border between French Guiana and Suriname. As to the mixing between different clan, they formed a new ethnic group.
The struggles for freedom against the Dutch troops and also against the Ndyuka and the Saramaka almost extinguished them. Now feuding brothers living farther North, created a sense of belonging to the same people living in either one side or the other of the River Today border.
In the late eighteenth centuries, the Aluku occupied the region of today Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, Apatou, Grand-Santi, and the largest fraction of the territory still occupied called Fochi-ké (First Cry), better known as Aluku and located in the region of Maripasoula, consisting of:
- the municipalities and city of Maripasoula and the capital city of Papaïchton and his traditional villages: Kormontibo, Assissi, Loca, Tabiki, and Agoodé, in French Guiana;
- and Cottica, in Suriname.
Traditionally, Aluku sustained itself, living in gathering, hunting, fishing and nomadic culture far from their homes.
However, taken together, they seem to have passed the point of no return to society of consumption, the market economy and modernity. Many bonuses are hired as drivers of river boats (pirogues) by the Army, in the 9th RIMa. According to Bernard Delpech (in Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, nº 182), they undergo the "destabilization of the basic traditional material, cultural transformation, altering the rules of collective life".
Their Aluku language is a creole of English (inherited from the former British colonies in today's Suriname from which they came) and other influences (including Dutch, African languages, and more recently French). It is similar to the languages spoken by the Paramaccan and Kwinti or the Jamaican Patois. It is similar to the languages spoken by the Pamaka and Ndjuka.