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AMSTERDAM–Finally there may be peace for the 680 Africans who perished when the Dutch slave ship Leusden sank off the Suriname coast in 1738. At least that’s the hope of the organizers of the first Afro spiritual ceremony not far from the underwater grave of the ill-fated captives. “This mission was a great success throughout,” said Henry Strijk, a senior journalist who, prompted by a book on the Slave Ship Leusden by historian Leo Balai, had spearheaded the project with funding from the Dutch Government.
The Leusden was a ship that was built in the Netherlands specifically for transporting captives from Africa to work as slaves on the Dutch colonies Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Reports are that the vessel made no less than 10 trips, carrying 6,564 captives, 1,639 of whom did not survive the passage. On January 1st 1738, the ship made its final voyage; it ran aground in the estuary of the Marowijne River, and just before it sank into the murky depths, the captain ordered his crew to lock the compartments where the slaves were kept. The crew sailed off and left the Africans to drown. Historian Balai, who obtained his doctorate title with the study into the ship, characterized this as the worst naval disaster in Dutch history. His book –The SlaveShip Leusden- has unearthed a touchy part of the country’s past that not much was written about before.
In The Netherlands, the book prompted journalists Henry Strijk and Jessica Dikmoet, both of Surinamese origin, into submitting an elaborate proposal that not only included the spiritual ceremony, but also featured a session in which budding journalists would be involved. It all took place in Suriname in the past few weeks. Back from Suriname, sipping on a cup of coffee in Amsterdam last Tuesday, Strijk spoke in superlatives about how the project went.
PARAMARIBO–In commemoration of International Day of Forests, March 21 and World Water Day, March 22 the U.S. Embassy Paramaribo, is presenting two documentaries:
Ross Kemp: Battle for the Amazon This documentary looks into the socio-economic and environmental pressures facing the Amazon regions of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru and exploring the legacy of devastation created by a burgeoning global desire for energy, food and mineral resources. It investigates how oil companies are affecting large tracts of the Amazon in a desire to satisfy the planet’s energy needs and how the turf wars that arise over cattle ranching and soy plantations have escalated. It also investigates how the global demand for cocaine is leading to further deforestation and how the rise in the price of gold has meant that people are tearing up the rainforest as they seek to earn a living.
PARAMARIBO–Club Neutraal is “satisfied” with the success of its derby of last Sunday December 16th . The “largest horseback riding event of 2012” was held at Nancy’s Horse Track at Jessurunweg, near the Kameelbrug. No less than 23 racehorses took part, in five categories: A, B and C for advanced riders, D for starters and Open, for anyone with a racehorse.
“It was a well-attended event at which horseback riding enthusiasts enjoyed the beautiful steeds and exciting races. In each class, there were neck-and-neck races, because the horses all gave each other a run for the prizes. The winners returned home with trophies and prize money,” the organization wrote in a release issued over the weekend.
PARAMARIBO–Tropicana Hotel and Casino hosted a pilot run of a proposed entertainment TV show on Nov 29th, produced by Stardom Media Group Worldwide. The event was completely in English. The host was Kris DCosta, the director of Stardom, who in 2009 also produced and hosted the English talk show called Koffee With Kris.
The November and December shows are test runs. The show is split in two parts and the 1st part appeared on ABC television at 6.10pm on December 8. The part Two of the 1st episode will be shown on December 22 also at 6.10pm on ABC TV.
The show on November 29th was called FASHION PARADE AND ENTERTAINMENT NITE. It was hosted by singer and performer Natasha Benjamin from Trinidad and Tobago along with the producer/director of the show Kris DCosta, who is from India. The show featured two rounds of walks, choreographed by DCosta and dance performance by dance and fitness trainer Alison Maia from Feel Good Fitness. Trendy and modern outfits from Julia’s fashion store at Gompertstraat 8A were showcased in both the rounds.
Los Angeles, CA–A Los Angeles based television production company is casting its nets outside the US to find participants for a TV series that will highlight high-risk jobs people do in the world. Red Varden Studios is now casting for a group, family or business that is currently working a high-risk or high-stakes job. “We’ll also consider participants from Suriname,” Casting Associate Janelle Eagle said.
The studio said in a press release that it is casting for English-speaking individuals, groups, or businesses to complete a risky job. “We are aiming to highlight a job similar to that of Deadliest Catch, Ax Men, Gold Rush, Ice Road Truckers and Storm Chasers. Unique, large, and dynamic personalities are a must,” the press release stated.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands–Carifesta 11, slated for August 16 to 26 2013 in Suriname, is rapidly starting to take shape, and its organizers say they are raising the bar. “This is the premier culture and arts festival of the Caribbean and what we’re planning here is an event that will put Suriname, Caricom and Unasur on the worldmap. That is why we’re striving for the highest possible quality in whatever we put out. We cannot afford to issue the slightest element that is not up to par,” said Management Team Chairman Ivan Graanoogst on Saturday, at the presentation in The Hague of Carifesta’s new logo and website.
The new logo, a colorful design that brings together images of the region’s first inhabitants, Suriname’s Apinti drum and the colors of the Caribbean intertwined with those of the Union of South American States (Unasur), was produced by veteran designer Henna Brunings. The website, which blends pictures of Suriname with information of Carifesta and promises of what to expect in August 2013, was produced by Karel Donk. They were well received at their unveiling in Suriname on Saturday October 27th. To Graanoogst they stood as the ideal models of the quality standards aimed for. Carifesta 11 brings the region’s roving festival back to Suriname for the second time, under the theme “Culture for Development”, suggestive of the intention to not only be a platform for the region’s artisans to show off their talent, but also enable them to turn their trade into business. “In this day in age, it is hardly necessary anymore to travel for business, but the travel and tourism industries are soaring nonetheless. That’s because culture has potential to create business. Carifesta is supposed to create those opportunities,” said Graanoogst.
The event was first held in 1972 in Georgetown, Guyana, and has since been held 10 times, each time turning a different nation into the region’s heartbeat. Suriname first hosted it in 2003. This time around the festival will be centered in the wooden inner city of Paramaribo. Intentions are to make the capital a Festival City that week, so that from the Independence Square and the Presidential Palace, down to the heart of town, people feel that Carifesta is in town. In addition the event will be taken to all corners of the country, with Carifesta stages in remote villages.
PARAMARIBO–The acclaimed August Wilson Dance Company from Pittsburg is visiting Suriname for an exchange program. Dancers James Washington, Annalee D Traylor, La Kendra M Dennard, Kaylin M Horgan and Andrea M Young will be in the country from October 14 – 20 to showcase their hip hop dance creativity, the US embassy has announced.
The company was founded in 2009 and has since become one of the premier contemporary dance companies in the United States. Its crop of young dancers has been named to Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” list, performed at the annual SummerStage festival in New York City’s Central Park and orchestrated a black dance festival that brought standouts of the African-American dance tradition, such as Ailey II, to Pittsburgh. Their invitation to perform and teach dance to pre-teens through young adults in Suriname, brings them abroad for the first time.
“I think it definitely puts another pinpoint on the map for us,” said dancer James Washington. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says Peggy McKean, deputy chief of mission to the U.S. Embassy saw the company perform a couple of times and extended to dancers the opportunity to take part in Camp Glow, a Peace Corps program that strives to instill interpersonal skills and self-esteem in youths through physical activities and performances.
Going into communities and working with children is a regular part of the ensemble’s schedule. Each day, dancers will be teaching one or two workshops with about 50 participants in each. They also will perform.
The freedom of speech and expression that movement allows will be a focus of the camp, Mr. Washington said. ”So many kids don’t think dance is a career,” he said. “I just always like to portray that and make sure the kids can see it’s something you can grow up and do.”The dancers will conduct workshops with disadvantaged youth in Paramaribo, Moengo and Brokopondo, emphasizing themes of community-building, self-esteem and team work. They will also give a performance in Moengo and Paramaribo. August Wilson Dance Company is very pleased to collaborate with Surinamese hip hop dance and singing artists for a final performance Friday, October 19.
The U.S. Embassy supports youth-oriented outreach, because youth represent the next generation of global leaders. The future depends on cultivating young people to be educated, responsible and engaged leaders. It is important to encourage young Surinamers to stay away from drugs, to stay in school, to work hard and to develop skills that will ensure success. Dance offers freedom of expression and is a popular and accessible means to connect with youth. Through dance, youth can channel their energy and creative expression in a positive way.
PARAMARIBO–Marlene’s Ballet Company (MBC) last week won the first prize at the XIX International Amazon Ballet Festival (FIDA) in Belém do Pará, Brazil. The choreography of Marlène Lie A Ling titled “Rapsodia”, was well received by the jury that featured top figures in the international dance world.
The choreography was inspired by the universal role of the mother and was meant to create awareness for the harm that domestic violence can do to a family. It earned a roaring applause from an appreciative audience, that had packed the Teatro da Paz in Belém do Pará.
The festival was held from September 26th to 30th. More than 90 local, national en international dance teams took part. As it is always able to attract this varied participation, FIDA, with its excellent organisation, is considered one of the top dance events of Latin America.
MBC Director Marlene Lie A Ling, the Folkloristic Ensemble Paramaribo en Balletschool Marlène, traveled to Belem with a 15 member troupe. It is the second time MBC wins first prize at FIDA. In 2004 the school won with the choreografy “Klamboes”.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname—Suriname is spending some 17 million SRD in preparation of Carifesta 11, scheduled for August of 2013 in Suriname. Tuesday saw the launching of the project at the Cabinet of the President.
Organizers expect that about 1500 artistes from all over the Caribbean will be here for the cultural event. The Surinamese organization made up of some 30 directors and others in key positions in the art world have been given specific tasks.
Ivan Graanoogst heads the organizing committee. Joined by Culture Director Stanley Sidoel at the presentation last Tuesday, Graanoogst emphasized that Suriname’s investment in Carifesta must have an economic spin off effect. The organization expects that the receipts of the tourism and hotel industries will be considerable. 17 million SRD is therefore probably not that much to spend.
NEW YORK–The annual “Suriname Day” in New York, “Sranan Dei”, will be held on Sunday, August 5 at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens New York. Due to the rising costs of this event, a voluntary contribution from the public is under consideration. Any contribution is highly appreciated.
Over the years several Surinamese artists have musically contributed to the Sranan Dei. Highlights were hitherto performances of Ghabiang Crew, Sranan Uma Prisiri, Conjunto Trasani, Kankantrie, NAKS Kaseko Loco, Dil E Nadan, Biesnoewatie Khoesal, Khisal Bhola Sing, Remie Abdul and Pinto, Franky Miesidjan and Patrick Tevreden. New York’s own Fiesta Sound NYC Mike Sparendam, whether or not reinforced with guest musicians from Miami and the Netherlands, has been providing the “soundtrack” to the Sranan Dei and thus the summer in New York.
Interest in the Sranan Dei in New York continues to grow. Many large Surinamese acts, including Lobi Firi, Afu Sensi, Powl Amerali (Suripop) and Edgar “Trafasi” Burgos, have already expressed their desire to participate. Sranan Dei in New York began 36 years ago as a picnic for family and friends. Today this event draws thousands of Surinamese from all parts of the USA, the Netherlands and Suriname participate in the celebration of Suriname’s multicultural unity in the United States.
The Sranan Dei offers typical Surinamese food, music, sports and games and a great opportunity for meeting old friends and making new ones. This year extra attention will be given to the children and teenagers.
By Wim d’Agrella