Graman Quassi

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Graman Quassi
Blake after John Gabriel Stedman Narrative of a Five Years copy 2 object 15-detail.jpg
"The Celebrated Graman Quacy", illustration by William Blake in Capt. John Gabriel Stedman, 1796 Narrative, of a five-years' expedition against the revolted Negroes of Surinam. This image represents copy 2, currently held by the Huntington Library and Art Gallery.
DiedMarch 12, 1787(1787-03-12) (aged 94–95)
OccupationHealer, botanist and slave hunter
Known forFreedman and slave hunter who hunted escaped slaves

Kwasimukamba, Quassi or Graman Quacy (also spelled Kwasi and Quasi) (1692 in Guinea (region); 12 March 1787 in Paramaribo) was a enslaved Surinamese man, later freedman. He was known as healer, botanist and slave hunter in service of the Dutch colonists in Suriname. He is also known for having given his name to the plant genus Quassia.[1]


Quassi's roots were among the Kwa speaking Akan people of present-day Ghana, but as a child he was enslaved[2][3] and brought to the New World. In Suriname, a Dutch colony in South America, he was first put to work in the sugar plantation New Timotebo.

Quassi had a great linguistic and botanical knowledge. He was famed as a healer. He obtained his freedom in 1755.

Quassi participated in the colonial wars against the Saramaka maroons as a scout and negotiator for the Dutch. He lost his right ear during the fighting.[4] For this reason the Surinamese Maroons remember him as a traitor.[5] In the late 1760s, he was owner of a plantation.

In February 1772, he visited the Netherlands, and was given an audience by William V, Prince of Orange. He returned to Suriname in September 1772.[6]

On 12 March 1787, Governor Wichers announced that Quassi had died in Paramaribo at the age of at least 95. He was buried by the Free Negro Corps.[7]


One of his remedies was a bitter tea that he used to treat infections by intestinal parasites, this concoction was based on the plant Quassia amara which Carl Linnaeus named after him, as the discoverer of its medicinal properties. Quassia continues to be used in industrially produced medicines against intestinal parasites today.[8] In contemporary accounts he was described as "one of the most extraordinary black men in Suriname, and perhaps the world"[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b R. Price. Kwasimukambas gambit. In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 135 (1979), no: 1, Leiden, 151-169
  2. ^ Crabbe, Nathaniel (2020-03-05). "Graman Quassi: Meet the Ghanaian who discovered the Quassia Tonic to heal Whites". - Ghana news. Retrieved 2022-10-02.
  3. ^ "Graman Quassi, discoverer of Quassia Tonic". Ghanaian Museum. 2020-03-04. Retrieved 2022-10-02.
  4. ^ "Surinam Slave Trade". 19 August 2007.
  5. ^ First-time: the historical vision of an African American people. Richard Price. University of Chicago Press, Sep 15, 2002
  6. ^ Gert Oostindie and Emy Maduro (1986). "In het land der overheerser II" (PDF). Verhandelingen van Het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (in Dutch). Dordrecht: Foris Publications. 100: 109.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ Ruud Beeldsnijder (1993). "Een weinig bekende brief over de heelmeester, lukuman en slavenjager Quassie". OSO. Tijdschrift voor Surinaamse taalkunde, letterkunde en geschiedenis (in Dutch). p. 82. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  8. ^ Promoting Interest in Plant Biology with Biographies of Plant Hunters. Peggy Daisey. The American Biology Teacher , Vol. 58, No. 7 (Oct., 1996), pp. 396-406