I am among my people, says Ghana king during visit to Suriname

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By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Suriname celebrated its 43 independence anniversary from the Netherlands on Sunday and this year’s celebration was unique. The Ashanti King of Ghana, Otumfei Osei Tutu II, is in the country for the event and on Saturday had an emotional moment after he visited the heart of Suriname’s Africa, Brokopondo, saying, “While I was entering Brokopondo, a young man spoke with me in my language.

“From that moment on, I knew that I was among my people.”

The visit of the Ashanti King of Ghana is of historical significance, especially for the Surinamers of African descent. Their West African and especially their Ghanaian heritage has been well preserved among the five nations who lived a life free of slavery after they won successful wars of liberation against the Dutch.

They are the Akkan/Ndyuka, Saamaka, Matawai, Aluku, Paramaka, and Winti. The Akkan is the largest group, and the language is still spoken in Suriname today.

In the interior of the country, they are governed by African traditional chiefs in semi-autonomous communities; however, these descendants of Maroons have issues with the constitution of Suriname that denies them the ancestral land that they liberated since the 1770s.

The king said that he is very pleased with the fact that the West African and, in particular, the Ghanaian “culture brought to Suriname has not been lost,” and he appealed to the traditional authority to maintain it. The Ghanaian king praised Suriname for making great strides in preserving its African heritage.

District commissioner of Brokopondo, Frederik Finisi, received the king and presented him with several gifts.

“I hope that once you see this couch you will think back to your visit to Suriname, the district of Brokopondo, and the president of our country,” Finisi said in the Saramaccan language.

The Granman of the Saramaccan clan, Albert Krishnadas, cited historical bonds between Suriname and Africa and expressed his hope that it will be developed further.

The king urged everyone to work to advance stronger ties between the two countries, and he invited President Desi Bouterse to visit Ghana.

The Ashanti King of Ghana, Otumfei Osei Tutu II (L) with President Desi Bouterse

On Friday, at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname, the king delivered a lecture titled, “The Role of a Traditional King in a Contemporary Nation State”.

The lecture was well received by a large audience, and the University of Suriname is looking to collaborate with King Tutu II to install a chairperson to head an African Diaspora Studies and Ghanaian History and Culture at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname. The king immediately pledged his support for the project.

The audience and several speakers emphasized the need for more information on the ‘roots’ of many Surinamers in the African continent and especially “our history with Ghana”.

Suriname is also looking to benefit from Ghana’s experience in heritage tourism, Vice-President Ashwin Adhin said during his meeting with the king.

Suriname is looking for stronger collaboration with the land that most of its black population originated from: Ghana.

Bilateral cooperation between Suriname and Ghana still remains behind and mostly due to geographical distance, air connectivity and high shipping fees. While the two countries have signed some bilateral agreements in the past, commerce between the two countries remains poor. Ghana has no diplomatic mission in the Caribbean area, and the Ghana ambassador to Paramaribo is based in Brazil.

But the two countries have been “talking” for some time now about an airbridge between Suriname and Ghana that can feed into the Caribbean and North Brazil. Guyana is also looking to open this air frontier. Suriname and Ghana are also looking to expand trade and commerce and agriculture. Ghana has a new state of the art airport and Accra is one of Africa’s top hubs for fast and easy connectivity.

Ghana Air will soon again take off after the government makes a decision about bids from Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and others.

Meanwhile, in Suriname, the Ghanaian king had a busy schedule. He received a red carpet welcome at the airport when he arrived on a private jet with an entourage of 40 people. He was welcomed at the Presidential Palace by Bouterse, where they held talks. The king also laid wreaths at several monuments in the city.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I hope the people never fell for such monstrous statements, it was the Kings ancestors that sold them to the Europeans. He should be castrated and sent home, at the same time required to pay reparations.

  2. Today there are over 100,000 enslaved people and children in Ghana.

    Ritual servitude(trokosi system) is still a practice in Ghana, where traditional religious shrines (popularly called fetish shrines in Ghana) take human beings, usually young virgin girls, in payment for services, or in religious atonement for alleged misdeeds of a family member. In Ghana, it is practiced by the Ewe tribe in the Volta region.

    • Jolly Green, that’s a lie.
      There are no over 100,000 enslaved children in Ghana. Trokosi is an outdated practice.
      And also the Ashantis didn’t enslave their own people. The Fante-Akuapem alliance fought against the Ashanti empire. Both sides sold their war criminals to Europeans. Hence, Akans who were sold to the Caribbeans were either royalty or warriors.
      So the next time you blame modern day Africans, be reminded that you probably descend from rival kingdoms.

  3. GT that Black/White statement you made above has nothing in the middle, you dont see grey areas. I read and heard people say that but its cliche and lack scholarship.

    Dutch/Surinamese social scientist and human rights activist, Sandew Hira had this to say about the subject- see his article below.

    “Stop blaming the guilt of collaborators on victims!

    The visit of the Ghanaian King Otumfuo Osei Tutu-II was a problem for some people, including Iwan wijngaarde, chairman of the feydrasi fu afrikan srananman, to bring back an old colonial reasoning about slavery.
    The reasoning is as follows: Africans have sold Africans, therefore Africans must confess guilt and apologize to Surinamese.

    “Where is the colonial kink in this reasoning? It does not distinguish between collaborator and victim and the suffering of the victims is hidden behind the crimes of the collaborators and the perpetrators. The perpetrators are white Europeans who had organised transatlantic slavery and created a, of plantations, slave labor. In that system, African collaborators were used, not only the Ashanti, but in all other African nations. This is a mechanism of the colonization of the spirit known under the denominator: humiliation.

    What are the facts. Ashanti is an African nation that knew both victims and collaborators. The vast majority of Ashanti people were victims of the transatlantic slavery organised by Europeans. The database with data on the origin of the Africans who were kidnapped shows this: http://www.slavevoyages.org. why this fact was withheld by wijngaarde? The Ashanti were primary victims of the criminal system. You can’t blame the crimes of the collaborators on the shoulders of the victims.

    In The Netherlands, Jewish collaborators were responsible for the organization of the transport of Jews to the gas chambers in Eastern Europe. No one would get it in his or her head to ask from Jewish organizations excuses for the work of these collaborators because it is immoral to slide the crime of the collaborator on the shoulders of the victims and therefore also the great criminals (the creators And most important freeloaders of the system) out of shot.” by Sandew Hira

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