"...Uhere ancestral tradition still live after 250 years;
where magicnl fire and glass caters, exotic wood sculptors
and f 'oodom roan where the door is a thing worshipped -
Two hund-red and fifty years ago they would have told you that it
was in the womb of (Teat grandmother "AVO AEEBKINA" that the Djuka poorle
came into being.
Today all Bush oegroes, even the smallest child, still say the
same thing, except that they do it differently now...sometimes in song
and dance...always in strange whispers to the ancestral spirits and inimit-
Today in the regions of the U:ter Surinace River and Brokopondo,
in littloa known regions of the Upper Saramacca and Marawijne where Djuka
World unfolds in strange images of the past the people still talk about
that courageoous but lovable freedom fighter "ABEI TINA" who ran away from
the plantation Adrichem with a son and two daughters to set up the two
oldest Djuka clans "OTO-LO" and "MISS IDJAII-LO". It is said that her son
PAIUJ became the first groat Paramount Chief of the Djukas.
Today what is important about the DjuLas of Surinam is the fact
that they have boon able to retain a life style and a culture that they
have brought with them from Africa.
Like the Black Caribs of Belize and Dominica they still sing the
old songs and dance the old dances...thoy still eat their fire and chew
their glass like in West Africa...thoy still carve their wood in that
special way, with that special art that their forefathers had passed down
to then. The Djukas are like a mirror of Africa in a foreign land.
Today what is also important about the Djukas is that some of
then will be apuearinC at CARIFESTA in Guyana. For hundreds of years these
people who ran away from the plantations of the Dutch and English masters
in the Guianas have been thrilling the world with their unique and inimit-
able carvings. Their works have reached the courts of Kings and Queens and
dignitaries throughout the world.
S -It is this..2/
b\ ~ L r-^ fj't't/r"!V / I
- 2 -
It is this carving technique of the Djul:as which will mainly im-
press the CARIFESTA crowd, The Djukas are said to be the only people
living in the world of the Americas who tell a story in their carvings.
Stories of love and hate, of slavery and freedom, of betrayal, friendship
and loyalty. Each Djuka carving is like a story book.
And today in many Djuka villages the youngsters cherish carvings
which their ancestors did...carvinrs which arc a virtual history book.
And these carvings are an inspiration to the present contemporary master
carvers of the DjuLas.
Joining their Djuka brothers at CARIFESTA would be the Javanese
and Hindustani and Crooles of Surinam. They will sing their song and do
their dance brought from Java and India, show their handicraft and paintings,
their Kotomisi display along with their famous Ballets Soekoo Makendra.
But for a particular reason many people will have a special
interest in the Djukas when they come for CAItIFESTA; mainly because they
are supposed to be some kind of sup.ar I-oings with strange magical power
and living in an oe:citing world somewhere in Surinam.
The DjukrLs are surT tsoed to be the people who created Baccoc -
those little people that can pi car and lisa cear at will...little things
that take many frrams and shajes...that can be kept quiet only when they
are locked up in a lack bottle...and who love eating banana and milk.
For oe-rnplc in Guyana the people still have vivid memories of
BOYSIE and BOYAH,...two Baccoos who spread fear and terror in the hearts of
Guyancoe throughout the country-sido a few decades ago.
Boysio and B;yah one looking like an East Indian and the
other like a Negro reigned for a long lioc on the Uest Coast cf Demorara
in Guyana damaging -roperties, brc-aking: windows and doing their own thing...
until a noted obeohann was said to have travelled across to Surinam and
got the right pFwers and charms from the Djukas to silence Boysic and
Many Guyanese even today still believe that the Djukas have
strong supernatura- powers. This is supqr-rted by common remarks like...
"Chile ah hear he been to Djukr. country fo keep de wuk" or "3uddy bo me
na want nutin fo do wid she...yuh na hear she cross pon cayman back".
The common belief in the re-ion is that anyone wanting to see the
Djuka magic man must first cross a river on a cayman back. The cayman is
said to be controlled by the magician who is also able to read the mind of
his prospective guest.
But accnrclinig to Mr. Percy Vijngaarde, Council General of Surinam
in Guyana the Djukas in Surinam do not know that they possess these super-
natural powers which many Guyanese and other people ascribe to them. He
a-reed that the Djukas have strange ceremonies... that they get into a
trance after dancing for hours and cat fire and l1ass when they are complete-
ly oblivious of their surroundins...that they even dance in the fire.
The Dutch Council explained that after a death in the Djuka
village there is a period of mourning at the end of which these DBsh Neogroos
celebrate Brokodei,..a big Festival of song and dance, but he stressed that
"wo know nothing about Baccoo".
Mr. Wijgnraarde however, pointed out that the Djuka people have
a unique reverence for ancestral things. Tie related how the Djukas, who
lived in villages around the area that was to be flooded as a result of
the building of the Hydrc-Electric Schoee at Affobakka, refused to remove
to new areas in spite cf the repeated efforts of the Government. He said
that the Djukas would tell G:vernnent officials ",ur forefathers (Afo)
have lived here for many moons and so have we...and the spirits of our
forefathers will not allow this place to be flooded".
But the dam was built, the waters flooded out the villages as
exractcd, and the Djukas were forced to movo to higher ground. Yet today
they still have a special reverence for the sacred soil where their fore-
fathers lived. They will return thore tomorrow if the water goes away.
It is also known that the Djukas worship the deer because it was this
animal that saved their ancestors.
According to the history of the Djukas which is always discussed
around their camp fires, it was a deer which their forefathers saw crossing
the Surinam River, that really save them from being shot by the planters from
whom they had escaped. It was on the ,-ther side of the river where they
set up the first Djuka Village under a system of oo=mfunal democracy.
It is shid that a Djuka would kill anyone he sees killing a deer.
The Djukas are an interesting -cople and through CARIFESTA many
people will be given an opportunity to know more about them. And maybe
through CARIFCST'- it may be possible to shatter misconceptions that most
Caribbean and Latin American people h>,ld about them...misconceitions
of their ability to make Baccoo.
One of the main aims of CARIFsSTW is to provide an atmosphere
in which a greater understandinC of the many peoples of the Caribbean
and Latin America will omerge.
CARIFESTA will give us all a glimpse of the l copies and their
heroes Avo Abenkina and Bolivar; their gods Makonaima and Oxala and
Yemanja. Through the medium of dance, f-:'l: art, literature, drama,
music, painting and sculpture and educational exhibitions CLARIFESTA
will portray the peoorle's culture.