Surinamese Anansi stories, now part of Dutch heritage

This video from Jamaica says about itself:

Anansi and the Pot of Beans

19 October 2006

Anansi loves his grandma’s beans.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Stories about spider Anansi on heritage list

Today, 02:27

The stories about the spider Anansi are from now on recognized on the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Netherlands. This Caribbean storytelling tradition has its roots in slavery.

The Anansi stories have been told for centuries in West Africa. The slave trade spread them to Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. The postwar migration brought them also to the Netherlands.

The Knowledge Centre of Intangible Heritage says the stories have a positive connotation, despite the dark past. They “contribute to strengthening the awareness and pride in heritage and culture.”

Dutch as frogs

The main character is a savvy spider which likes to fool other animals. Anansi is an ambivalent figure, a trickster, who also regularly harms his own wife or children.

In the days of slavery the narrators could also use the stories to embarrass the plantation owners. Dutch did not realize they were ridiculed in the fairy tales as frogs.

The stories were formerly told from parent to child, but now also through theater, schools and libraries. One of the most famous books about Anansi was written by the Surinamese former President Johan Ferrier.


The Anansi stories are an exotic addition to the heritage list, because nearly all have a European origin …

Of the 93 traditions 6 have a multicultural background, like the Surinamese koto and angisa costumes and tambú drums from the Antilles.

The non-Western traditions in the list:

Indies rijsttafel: Indonesia
Maroon culture: Suriname
Anansi: Suriname
Angisa and koto clothes: Suriname
Henna art: Turkey, Morocco
Tambú: Antilles

The addition of the Anansi stories to the heritage list will be celebrated today at the new Anansi tree in the Open Air Museum in Arnhem. Twenty storytellers will keep the stories alive for the visitors the coming time.

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Power of Stories – Performance Wijnand Stomp (official trailer English)

1 October 2014

Theatre maker Wijnand Stomp and documentary maker Jean Hellwig present a stand-up storytelling show for people from 10 to 110 years old. In a mix of theatre, comedy and documentary they bring the audience in a cheerful way in contact with stories about the history of slavery.

The flamboyant Mister Anansi (Wijnand Stomp) sits on his porch in what he calls his “Anansi Tree”. From the branches hang old shoes. The window of his house is a television. It reveals in mini documentaries the special encounters during his journey along the Transatlantic triangle of the slave trade: Zeeland – Ghana – St. Eustatius. Mister Anansi tells about the new stories he created and his energetic Aunt Jewel drops by for a game of domino. With her hilarious First National Slavery Quiz she confronts the audience in a humorous way with the traces of slavery, under the motto ‘Hats off to slavery’.

In The Power of Stories Stomp and Hellwig weave a web of slavery in the Netherlands with personal stories from overseas. At the end of the show Mister Anansi lets his audience in notes write about their personal links with slavery. He keeps these stories in the shoes on his Anansi tree and lets the wind take them traveling.

SUITABLE for theaters, festivals, schools, libraries and cultural heritage institutions.

New Suriname bird book, ruff not yet included

This video says about itself:

22 January 2013

Small birds in Suriname, Amazonia. This is a collection of footage of “small” birds in our part of Suriname (South America). 99% of the footage has been made in our own yard. I excluded the hummingbirds, parrots/parakeets, birds of prey, and pterodactylae, because I want to make separate videos about them.

Very recently, a new book, Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname, was published. Its publisher writes about it:

Suriname, located on the Atlantic coast of northeastern South America, is a relatively small country compared to most other South American countries. It nevertheless has a rich avifauna. By the end of 2014, 746 species (including 760 subspecies) were known to occur in Suriname. Most of the land area of Suriname is still covered with tropical rainforest and the country should be a must-visit for birdwatchers. Suriname is even mentioned as being the best country to spot certain neotropical species. Surprisingly, few birders visit Suriname. The main reason given is the lack of a handy pocket guide that can easily be carried in a backpack.

The Field Guide to the Birds of Suriname (with its 107 color plates) tries to fill this gap. In addition to species accounts, data on topography, climate, geology, geomorphology, biogeography, avifauna composition, conservation, and hotspots for bird watching are given. So, why delay your trip to this beautiful and friendly country any longer.

An electronic version of part of the book is here.

Arie Spaans, one of the authors, was interviewed this morning on Dutch radio.

He confessed the book was not completely up to date. As the book was already being printed, a ruff, usually an Eurasian bird not present in the Americas, landed on a ship near the coast of Suriname. Too late to be included.

This video is about ruff mating season in Europe.

Birds of Suriname, new book

Birds of Suriname, cover

There is a new book, called Birds of Suriname. The cover (provisional version) depicts great kiskadees. A common species in Suriname; the first species which I saw when I landed at the airport there.

Ber van Perlo will be interviewed on the new book on Dutch radio this Sunday.

There is an organisation Stichting Vrienden Natuurbehoud Suriname.

Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Suriname

Already in 2009, they had published Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Suriname.

The cover depicts a Guianan cock-of-the-rock, another one of the over 750 Surinamese bird species.

French Guiana archaeological discoveries

This 2010 BBC video says about itself:

11 August 2010

Michelle Jana Chan explores the heritage of Suriname before crossing the Maroni River into French Guiana.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands, 25 August 2015:

Original inhabitants of French Guiana were not nomads

Archaeologically, French Guiana is still largely unexplored. “The work is hard,” says Martijn van den Bel, “but all you find is brand new. For example, that Indians really lived in the so-called virgin forest.” PhD on September 2.

Finds from unknown epoch

Van den Bel focused on the period from 3000 BC. until the present time. He discovered that French Guiana had already residents then and also that these Indians were not so primitive. He and his colleagues found shards which could be reconstructed into open, round bowls of 30 cm high with powdered quartz stone mixed into the baking clay. They can be dated to the Early Ceramic period (2500 BC.). “There was nothing known about that time,” says Van den Bel.

Saving sloths in Suriname

This video says about itself:

Field Spotlight: Monique Pool‘s Sloth Sanctuary | Conservation International (CI)

29 May 2013

Monique Pool, CI partner and founder of the Green Heritage Fund Suriname, finds herself “slothified” after an area of forest in Paramaribo, Suriname, is cut down. Monique rescued more than 200 animals, mostly sloths, and brought them to an emergency shelter, which also happens to be her home. Watch how Monique manages to feed, house, and release the sloths back into the wild.

From CNN:

When sloths are in trouble, she’s the one you call

By Kathleen Toner

August 7, 2015

Paramaribo, Suriname

Sloths. They hang from trees, move very slowly and make people smile with just one look.

In recent years, the Internet has helped these creatures achieve an almost cult-like status among animal lovers. But in the South American country of Suriname, one woman has been the sloths‘ passionate protector for more than a decade.

Monique Pool discovered her love for these animals in 2005. While looking for her lost dog, she called the Animal Protection Society and learned that a baby sloth had been orphaned. Pool offered to take it in.

“I didn’t know anything about sloths, but I learned a lot,” said Pool, who sought advice from international experts on how to care for the animals. “Now, when sloths are injured or in trouble, all the telephone calls come to us. The police, the fire brigade — even the zoo calls me.”

“Some people refer to me as ‘The Sloth Lady.’ I think it’s an honor.”

Today, Pool’s nonprofit, Green Heritage Fund Suriname, helps protect sloths and implement other conservation efforts in the country. Her home serves as a temporary sanctuary for the mammals, and she is now a recognized local authority on them.

Pool also takes in anteaters, armadillos and porcupines. To date, she and her volunteers have rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 600 animals back to the rainforest.

“When I release a sloth, I feel really happy because the animal is where he belongs. That’s the ultimate goal of my work,” Pool said. “Wild animals belong in the wild.”

CNN talked with Pool about life with sloths and her other environmental work. Below is an edited version of the conversation.

CNN: What kinds of risks are sloths facing here in Suriname?

Monique Pool: Suriname is 94% forested, which is the highest forest cover of any country in the world. Sloths that occur in this part of the world are not endangered, but that doesn’t mean that they are not threatened.

Here, the risk that sloths are facing is mainly in the urban area near Paramaribo (the country’s capital). I get an average of one call a week. As the city grows, the animals are losing their forest habitat really fast. So in the little bit that’s left, that’s where they all congregate. And they end up in people’s gardens, dogs attack them, they get onto people’s balconies. You name it, I’ve seen it, and I’ve rescued them.

My biggest rescue ever was in 2012 when we heard about this plot of land that was going to be cleared. I was told there were 14 animals there, but we rescued 200 — around 160 of which were sloths. We call this “Slothageddon.” Sloth Armageddon.

That’s what it was for them; it was the end of the world. During that time, it was really a bit weird to live here because there were sloths everywhere: in my living room, in cages, in my garage. Dozens of volunteers were helping. I was “slothified” — overwhelmed by sloths.

CNN: What’s it like living with sloths?

Pool: Sloths are not pets, but I do share my house with them, and it’s a very special experience. I can watch them for hours.

A sloth sleeps, it grooms, it eats and it sleeps a little bit more — that’s its whole life. They poop once a week, which is actually ideal. I don’t really like keeping them in cages, so some roam freely, but others I need to keep in cages outside.

Every animal has his very own personality. Some are more curious, some are more laid back. They’re very intelligent, deliberate animals. They will not just hop, like monkeys can, from tree to tree. They will touch the branch, see if it’s sound and only then will they start moving. And they’re very content to be with themselves. I think we humans could learn a lot from them.

CNN: Your ultimate goal with a rescue is to release the sloth back into the rainforest. How does that work?

Pool: I have two different locations where I release them, where I know they will be safe. We look for a nice tree, put the kennel up to it and let them go. Once the animal smells the forest, I can see how the energy changes and how it knows that it’s home again. For me, that’s the best part.

But I live in the middle of the city, so we are working to build a professional rehabilitation center in the forest, so we can give the animals an opportunity to practice their “sloth skills” before they are released. It will also be a good place to educate people about the animals and about how beautiful and important the rainforests are.

CNN: You sort of stumbled into caring for sloths. How has your conservation work evolved over the years?

Pool: I grew up in the Netherlands, and when I came back to Suriname, I ended up getting a job with Conservation International (an environmental nonprofit). Eventually, I realized that I wanted to work more in the coastal area, since that’s where the decisions are made and where people live.

Saving sloths is just one part of what we do. We also work on dolphins and ocean protection. We’ve taken more than 5,000 people out to experience dolphins on the Suriname River, a beautiful, intact mangrove river. Now others have started doing this, and we have created a tourism industry around the dolphins.

The sloths and the dolphins are a starting point for doing bigger things. They are really good animals to help people appreciate their environment more. If we want to protect them, we have to preserve the environment.

‘Flight MH17 disaster should bring peace, not war’

This video from the Netherlands is called Netherlands: MH17 bodies arrive in Hilversum for identification process.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today, about people mourning the flight MH17 disaster in Suriname:

“This kind of event is sky-high above political differences,” says Winston Wirht. He is one of the advisors of the Surinamese president and has just written in the condolence register about his desire that this disaster should bring the world a step closer to peace. “Only then the innocent passengers will not have given their lives for nothing. World peace, it would be so fine. Indeed, we all breathe the same air.”

Unfortunately, not all politicians agree with Mr Wirth. Some are beating the war drums. Dutch ex-NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer abuses the grief about the horrible death of the aircraft passengers, calling for spending more taxpayers’ money on ‘defence’.

The MH17 tragedy shows need for peace, not war mongering: here.

Yesterday, for the third day in the row, Dutch and Australian investigators into the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 were prevented from reaching the crash site in eastern Ukraine by a military offensive being waged by the far right regime in Kiev against pro-Russian separatists: here.

Are you ready for war—including possibly nuclear war—between the United States, Europe, and Russia? That is the question that everyone should be asking him- or herself in light of the developments since the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17: here.

Dutch Parliament indignant about Kiev’s armed forces fighting near MH17 disaster area: here.

While en route from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers, Algeria a twin-engine passenger plane operated by Air Algérie crashed in northern Mali early Thursday morning with 116 people onboard. It is still unclear, at the time of this writing, what caused the Boeing MD-83 to fall from the sky: here.

“French President François Hollande said there were no survivors found at the site of the Air Algérie crash in Northern Mali, adding that French troops dispatched to the scene had recovered one of the jetliner’s black boxes.” French officials believe weather may be behind the crash that killed 116 people. Weather is also thought to be to blame for the Taiwanese plane crash that killed 48 on Wednesday.