Music From Saramaka

Maroon Life

Where is Suriname?

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The Republic of Suriname, is a country in northern South America. Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America. It has an estimated population of approximately 490,000, most of whom live on the country's north coast, where the capital Paramaribo is located.

Who are Maroons?

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The ancestors of the Saramaka were among those Africans sold into slavery in the late 17th and early 18th centuries to work Suriname's sugar, timber, and coffee plantations. Coming from a variety of African peoples speaking many different languages, they escaped into the dense rainforest. They did this individually, in small groups, and sometimes in great collective rebellions. In 1762, a full century before the general emancipation (freeing) of slaves in Suriname, they won their freedom and signed a treaty with the Dutch crown. The word "Maroon" was used throughout the Americas to designate slaves who successfully escaped from slavery.

The Music!

A woman made up this song in the mid-1960s, after a dam was built on the Suriname River and the northern villages of Saramaka began to be flooded. The people successfully sued the government of Surinam in 1997 — and won!

Here are the Lyrics!

Salamaka toonbe-oo, Salamaka toonbe, luku.
Salamaka toonbe-ee, Salamake toonbe-ee, gadu.
(Lendema-ee, Lendema-ee, Salamaka toonbe.)

Saramaka's fallen, Saramaka's fallen, look.
Saramaka's fallen, Saramaka's fallen, gods.
Lendema (manager of the hydro-electric project), Saramaka's fallen.

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Listen to the music below! Is it easy or hard to keep the beat? Why or why not?

Sĕkĕti Songs: Song of Disaster, Love Song