Group Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Title: Our next door neighbours
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Our next door neighbours
Series Title: CARIFESTA Newspaper Clippings
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Nichols-Agard, Marilyn
Publisher: Sunday Chronicle
Publication Date: 9/10/1972
Subject: Carifesta (1st : 1972 : Guyana), Festivals - Caribbean Area
Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: South America -- Guyana -- Georgetown
Funding: Support for the development of the technical infrastructure and partner training provided by the United States Department of Education TICFIA program.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: CA00199956
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Holding Location: Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: CARIFESTA I 1972

Full Text





Though Surinam is our
next door neighbour,
we know so little about
the country, the peo-
ple, their way of life,
their culture.
Robin Dobra Ravales, Sarl-
namese poet, Arthur Leaden,
choreographer and teacher
of the School for Dance and
Movement in Surinam and
Mohamadmoesman, leader
of the Javanese music and
dance band rap about these
Can you tell us something
about Javanese culture, how
the Javanese came to Suri-
nam ?
The immigration by 'e
Dutch started in 1890 and
the Dutch you know, were
colonising Indonesia. After
the English stopped the im-
migration of indentured la-
bourers out of India the
.Hindustani as they are call-
ed in Surinam the Dutch
i began to take Indonesians
to Surinam to work on the
sugar plantations.
The Javanese, along with
their coming to Surinam,
brought with them their own
language, their own music,
their dances, and of course,
their food. You can't think
of Surinam anymore with-
out Javanese food like pit-
jel (growing peas) and sate
(beef or chicken on a bam-
boo stick) and telo (cassa-
va cooked and baked in oil).
What percentage of the Suri-

from Marilyn


namese population do the
Javanese comprise?
- From a population of
about 400,000 there are some
60,000 Javanese. Part of
them still have the Indone-
sian nationality because
when Indonesia became inde-
pendent they refused to be-
come Dutch like we are.
So the Javanese speak their
own language ?
- Yes. They speak Javanese,
and of course, the other lan-
guage is malais.
Are there any kind of racial
problems between the Ja-
vanese and the Ndjukas or
other members of the popu-
lation ?
Well, if there is any racial
problem, it is between the
creole and the Indians. The
creoles are the city and
plantation Africans.
When it comes to Javanese
music, I look' around and I
see certain instruments which
I have never seen before.
Can you give us the names
of these instruments and are
they specifically Javanese in-
struments ?
They are Javanese instru-
ments and the pieces are call-
ed kendag, bonang, genoros,
denung, kenong, saron, .pek-
ing, gong and these are made
in Surinam.
I noticed there were some camn
fa drmemers in your per--

formances, were they the
- No, they are the town peo-
ple. The Ndjukas are just
one tribe of bush negroes
The cumfa is the typical
town and plantation negro
cult. The Ndjukas have an-
other type of African cult.
In all, the bush negroes are
made up of the Saramacca,
Paramacca, Kwenti, Mata-
wai tribes, the Ndjukas, and
in French Guiana along the
Maruni river are the Boni
tribes." -,
What about the Ndjuka
carvers ?
- The bush negroes during
slavery fled the plantations
and so the Dutch colonial
government had to make
peace with the tribe.
Well, after that, the tribes
developed some sort of in-
dependence and have been
developing wood carvings.
A lot ot motives go along
with these carvings. For in.-
stance, if a man wants a woa
man, he would give her a-
comb. On that comb would
be carved what he thinks
about her, what he likes
about her, like, 'I .want to
kiss you', 'I want to meet
you along a secret road' or
'I want to go to bed with
And what about the cumia
Cumfa religion is some-
thing that you practise, not
-just something you believe
Sin. It is like everybody -
the day you are born, the
month you are born, the
stars you are born under.
You get a certain spirit from
the creator. One of them' is

called the gege, that is in
your consciousness, and this
one you get already while
you are in your mother's

eWhen you come ot; you uet
.t he godfathers spirit you
call them djadoe. So the
central one is the gege and
I the other two are the djadoa
a man and a woman. These
three together make up the
these three parts of the
spirits can choose cumfas.
These cumfa spirits can be
of the waters, of the earth
or of the air. R
'"We have a whole pantheon
of gods mamamaisai
Smother of the earth, leba,
the one who cleans the road
and you can go on and on.
If you are doing the cumfa
session, you have to begin
to sing to the mother of the
earth and after that to leba
because these two are the
ones who can clear the place
and put everything in order."
,In addition to cumfa dancers,
Javanese dancers, the Suri-
namese have also offered
among other dances one
called; "Searching for each
other" by the Surinazm Cul-
tural School for Dance and
What kind of uc d yo.
do besides classical dancing ,
The school has jazz classes
and does modem dancing,
Latin American danoain
Venezuelan dancing Mexi-
can dancing and we have
plansto introduce Negro and
Indian dancing"
All of this is a clear indica-
tion of Surinam's varied
cultural heritage and one
positive value of Carifesta
lies in awakening us to the
cultural life of our net door

Two Javanese do a horse dance. It is said
that as the dance progresses the dancers
become possessed with the spirit of horses
and actually begin to eat grass.

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