Wan Switi Srefidensi! Happy Surinamese Independence Day!
On November 25, many Surinamese people celebrate independence. In 1975 it became an independent country, before that it was a Dutch colony.
During the Anglo-Dutch war, Suriname came into the possession of England. The treaty of Breda was signed, after which Suriname became a colony of the Netherlands in 1667 through an 'exchange'. The Dutch set up plantations that mainly grow tobacco. The Dutch trade with the indigenous population of Suriname, which includes the Arawaks and the Kalina, and trade tools for wood. From 1680 people were taken from Africa and enslaved to work on the plantations.
When slavery was officially abolished in 1873, indentured laborers were brought from India, Indonesia, and China. The diverse population groups of the colonial past can still be found.
In 1954, Suriname was placed under a Kingdom context, which means that it was still part of the kingdom, but there was self-government. All Surinamese received Dutch nationality and were able to move to the Netherlands. There was a lot of criticism of independence at the time, because Suriname was not yet ready for independence.
As a result of the changes in Suriname, a large part of Surinamese people came to the Netherlands as a precaution. In Suriname, after independence, a coup took place under the head of Desi Bouterse. In December of 1982, the December murders were committed, 15 critics of Bouterse's regime were executed. After independence, a lot went wrong in Suriname. Yet many Surinamese find it important to reflect on the day.
This is how student Esma also reflects. Esma lived in Suriname for 9 years and came to the Netherlands for her studies. “We don't really celebrate it at home, but we do think about it. We don't celebrate most holidays either, most that we do is sometimes get food and go to the palm garden”. Esma also wonders whether independence was the best thing for Suriname at the time because of the corruption, bad economy, and the December murders. This is still very close, because the grandfather of one of her friends was a victim of the December murders. "I also don't know if we should be shouting for independence celebrations, considering what has happened to the country since we gained independence."
There is a real unity
Esma thinks it is a beautiful national holiday and you also see that all different population groups come together, this is not always the case because there is a lot of division. On Independence Day everyone comes together, there is a real unity.
There are many different reasons why people may or may not celebrate independence. For many it is a day of unity, but for others it is still sensitive because a lot went wrong in the country after independence.