BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Most people who hear the name Suriname will likely ask you where the country is located. Suriname is a mystery to a lot of ordinary Americans despite it bordering Brazil; the country just about everyone on planet earth knows and loves. Understandably, Suriname does not project ideas of Fantasy Island, sandy beaches with blue water type of get away destination for tourists. However, when you get to know this unique place, its people and culture, you’ll wonder why the rest of the world always asks: Where is Suriname?
Despite it being a relatively unknown location in South America, Suriname is celebrated every year in Queens, NY. Sranang Dei or Suriname Day just marked its 40th annual celebration in Roy Wilkins Park. The event is typically held in early August. This year it happened on the 7th.
Our nation, currently going through a very sensitive period with issues like police brutality, racism and divisiveness amongst its people, it is calming to know that America is still beautiful, still unique and still the great melting pot of the world. We celebrate culture, all cultures, despite what you may hear in main stream media, and Suriname Day fits right into our identity as Americans.
Suriname, located on the northeast coast of South America, can also be seen as a melting pot of cultures and people. The country is made up of immigrants from India, Indonesia, the Island of Java, Japan, China and Africa just to name a few. The indigenous population of Arawak and Carib Indians, although small in number, represent a large part of Suriname’s culture and identity. And although I loathe the term, Maroon, (due to its origin) this group of former escaped slaves also call the interior of the country home, and also represent the heart of Suriname.
Suriname Day brings all these people out for a day of celebration and togetherness. It’s also a great opportunity for them to enjoy traditional foods, games and music. What is special about this celebration is that it takes place right here in the great state of New York. And, you certainly don’t have to be Surinamese to come out and enjoy the festivities. These are the traditions and customs that bond us as one nation of people. This is American Culture.