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Total population
37% of Suriname's population
Regions with significant populations
Suriname (Paramaribo · Coronie · Brokopondo · Marowijne · Saramacca)
Netherlands, United States
Dutch, Sranan Tongo, Saramaccan, Ndyuka, Kwinti
Christianity and Indigenous religion

Afro-Surinamese are the inhabitants of Suriname of Black African origin. They are divided into two groups, the Creole people and the Maroons. The Surinamese Creole people are the mixed-race descendants of West African slaves and Europeans. The Maroons were runaway slaves who formed independent settlements together. They maintained vestiges of African culture and language. Afro-Surinamese scholar, Gloria Wekker, argues, for example, that working-class Afro-Surinamese women retained pre-colonial African cultural understandings of gender, sexuality, and spirituality. She, and other theorists, argue that African cultural retentions are found most often in Afro-diasporic communities that either had irregular contact with dominant groups of the host community or that shielded their cultural retentions from their colonizers. As Wekker observes, Surinamese slaves socialized, communicated, and communed with little white cultural, social, or linguistic interference.[1]


Most of the slaves imported to Suriname came from Central Africa (more of 66,900 slaves, the 31,6% of the slaves of the place), Ghana (the 25% of the slaves, more of 53,000 people) and Bight of Benin (from there arrived the 16,4% of the slaves, more of 34,700 people). In Suriname also arrived thousands of slaves from Senegambia (since where were imported more of 1,300 slaves from there to archipelago, the 0,7% of the slaves) and the current Sierra Leone (0,7% of the slaves of the region, more of 1.400 people), Windward Coast (the 3,6% of the slaves of the island, more of 7,520 people) and Bight of Biafra (from there arrived the 2,1% of the slaves, more of 4,300 people).[citation needed]

The Akans of Fanti subgroup (a subgroup exported, at least, from Ivory Coast) and Ashanti (from the Ashanti Region, in central Ghana) were, legally, the predominant group among slaves in Suriname. However, in practice, slaves from Loango,[2]purchased in Cabinda, Angola,[3] were the largest group of slaves in Suriname since 1670; they surpassed the number on the Gold Coast in almost all periods. Enslaved people including the Ewe (who live in southern Ghana, Togo and Benin), Yoruba (from Benin[4]) and Kongo, all left their cultural footprints in Suriname.


Some Dutch people were involved in the slave trade during the early colonial years. They sought office space for their plantations. The space they received was when the British in the Treaty of Breda (1667) gave land on the northern coast of South America, ceded to them in exchange for New York. Suriname became a slave colony. Rapidly were slaves shipped from Africa to Suriname to work to put on coffee and sugar plantations of Dutch and other Europeans.

Over time, the slaves got used to their new environment and they created space for their African religion with many 'winti's', spirits. Some slaves asked their spirits for help with fleeing from the plantation.

Thus, every Saturday night under the watchful eye of the plantation owners and black overseers, dance parties were held until late into the night. To the great amusement of the slaveowners.


The Surinamese Creoles form 31% of the population. They are the mixed descendants of West African slaves and Europeans (mostly Dutch). Their culture is a fusion of various African cultures with indigenous and European influences. The traditional garment of the Creole in Suriname is the koto; women also wear the anjisa (a headscarf tied in a special way). This costume is still worn on festive occasions.


Escaped slaves in French Guiana and Suriname fled to the interior and joined with indigenous peoples to create several independent tribes, among them the Saramaka, the Paramaka, the Ndyuka (Aukan), the Kwinti, the Aluku (Boni), and the Matawai. Because of their long isolation in interior Rain Forests, they maintained more African culture than did ethnic Africans in the cities. From 1972 to 1978, two American professors, S. Allen Counter and David L. Evans, made seven voyages upriver into the maroon areas. Both African Americans, they wanted to contact these communities and learn about the peoples, to see what African cultures they lived by.[5]

By the 1990s the maroons in Suriname had begun to fight for their land rights to protect territory which they had long occupied.[6] They won an important case in 2007 at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which ruled they had rights to their traditional lands.[6]

Notable Surinamese of African descent[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wekker, Gloria. The Politics of Passion: Women’s Sexual Culture in the Afro-Surinamese Diaspora. Columbia University Press, 2006.
  2. ^ Identidades en juego, identidades en guerra (in Spanish: Identities at stake, identities at war) - Page 49
  3. ^ Batey: una revista cubana de Antropología sociocultural (in Spanish: Cuban magazine of Culture Anthropology) Mami Wata, Diosa de la Migración Africana
  4. ^ Los genes narran la rebelión de los esclavos (in Spanish: Genes tell the Revolt of the slaves). Posted by Núñez Domínguez.
  5. ^ Vincent Harding, "A remarkable search for roots;" I Sought My Brother: An Afro-American Reunion, by S. Allen Counter and David L. Evans, Christian Science Monitor, 12 March 1982, accessed 2 October 2013
  6. ^ a b Case of the Saramaka People v. Suriname, Judgment of November 28, 2007, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos), accessed 21 May 2009