Aluku Maroon Storytelling Tradition

Table of contents



A side-blown cow horn used by Jamaican Maroons to communicate across distances. The use of this horn provided Maroons tactical advantages during their battles with the British colonial authorities.

A dish made with plantains and peanuts by the Saramaka Maroons in Suriname.

Musical instrument made out of a gourd resonator with three musical bows, each bow with one string and a different sound. The agwado is used by Aluku Maroons in French Guiana to accompany individual singers and for musical games.

Essential spirit. According to the Ndjuka and Aluku Maroon human life cycle, human beings have an akaa or unchanging essential spirit, a soul, and a body.

Dark-color wood, known as rat wood, used by Ndjuka carvers to make wooden crafts, such as hair combs and trays.

Name of the Maroon people who live near the Maroni and Lawa rivers in French Guiana. They are also known as Boni Maroons because they are descendants of the great warrior Boni and his followers who launched a great war against the Dutch slave system during the mid-1700s.

A Ndjuka Maroon dish made from the fruit of a pina palm tree.

Aukaner and Okanisi
Other name for the Ndjuka Maroon communities in Suriname.

A board game brought from Africa and traditionally played by Maroon men in Suriname and French Guiana during the mourning period for a deceased community member.

Assistant of the kabitêni (village or family head) who meets in councils with other villagers to deal with community matters.

Maroon warrior and leader of the 1700s war against the Dutch slave system, who fled into French Guiana. Being descendants of Boni, the Aluku people in French Guiana are also known as Boni Maroons.

A hard tree fruit of the bignonia (tropical vine) family and used by Maroon carvers in Suriname and French Guiana to make bowls and other utensils as gifts or to be used at home and in rituals. In the Maroon communities in Suriname and French Guiana, carving calabashes is a popular craft among women.

A tropical plant of the spurge family, having edible starchy roots used for making bread or cakes and cassava cereal, known as kwaka.

Spanish word for "maroon" (fugitive or wild one). It refers to the Africans (and others) who escaped slavery from the plantations and mines of the European colonizers between the 16th and 19th centuries and developed independent communities in the wilderness.

dali or lonton
A wooden dredging device used to wash gold from soil in Suriname.

A highly nutritious Jamaican Maroon dish made of corn meal wrapped and cooked in banana leaves, which helped Maroons survive in the forest. It is a traditional meal served at the annual Nanny Day celebration in Moore Town, Jamaica.

Efu Gadu wani
"If God wills it." This phrase is often used in Surinamese Maroon communities, and it reflects the spirituality found everywhere in Maroon daily life.

Honorary title for the leader of the Saramaka Maroons in Suriname.

Gaan Gadu
Supreme god of Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana. Known also as Nana Keedyama Keedyampon.

Honorary title for the paramount chief of the Saramaka Maroons in Suriname.

Honorary title for the paramount chief of the Aluku people in French Guiana

goón uwii
A cornrow hairstyle that resembles the pattern of a cultivated field used by Saramaka women in Suriname.

Grandy Nanny
18th-century Jamaican Maroon female spiritual leader and warrior who is one of the country's national heroes. The Maroon town Nanny Town was named after Grandy Nanny and her image appears on the Bank of Jamaica's $500 currency note.

gumbe drum
A square drum thought to be invented by Maroons in the Americas and brought to Africa by Maroons who were resettled in Sierra Leone in the 1800s.

A spear used by Maroons in Moore Town, Jamaica, as a weapon in their struggle against the British colonial army.

A bird trap made from split sticks and baited with grains of rice.

Village or family head, basic to the government system of the Saramaka Maroons.

Breechcloths used by Maroon men in French Guiana. Kamisas are made by wives as gifts to their husbands and have community sayings and stories embroidered into patterns and designs.

White clay used by Maroons in French Guiana and Suriname for spiritual and healing purposes.

Kojo (Cudjoe)
Jamaican Maroon hero and leader who signed a peace treaty with the British in 1739.

kongo mandjali
Herbs from the plant family of Papilionaceae used by Ndjuka and Aluku Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana. Necklaces and bracelets with a mixture of kongo madjali and white clay (kaolin) are used by Maroon men and children for spiritual protection.

An African-derived religious tradition, based on herbalist and healing rituals practiced by the Windward Maroons in Jamaica.

kuutu osu
Maroon council house in Suriname and French Guiana where major community decisions are discussed and made.

A formal meeting held by Maroons in Suriname and French Guiana in which community issues are discussed and debated and cases are tried.

Cassava cereal.

Leeward Maroons
Maroon people living in Accompong in the Western Cockpit Country of the island of Jamaica.

Plaited straw sieve used to press poisonous juices out of cassava root to make the plant edible.

Maroon people living near the Tapanahony and Cottica rivers in the east of Suriname. They are also known as Aukaner or Okanisi Maroons.

The process of reincarnation. According to the Ndjuka and Aluku Maroon human life cycle when a person has lived a good life, his or her soul returns to the visible world after death as a newborn baby.

Light colored wood, known as paddle wood, used by Saramaka carvers to make wooden crafts, such as hair combs, stools, and boat paddles.

Community fishing event that the Saramaka people learned from indigenous groups in Suriname, where fish are drugged with herbs to make them easier to catch.

Maroon people living along the Suriname river in the interior rainforest of Suriname.

Maroon people living along the border between the northern region of the Mexican state of Coahuila and the state of Texas, in Oklahoma, and also in the Bahamas. The name Seminole is derived from their alliance with the native American groups known as Seminole Indians.

sufkee (suffki)
A Seminole Maroon dish made with corn, sugar, and spices and served as a breakfast cereal or a snack.

toli (tolie)
A Seminole Maroon dish made with wheat or corn flour and honey. It is an easily digested porridge often used to treat flu and intestinal symptoms.

A side-blown horn used by the Aluku and other Guianese Maroons to communicate messages.

uman kabiten
Ndjuka Maroon female village leader.

Windward Maroons
Maroon people living in the villages of Moore Town, Scotts Hall, and Charles Town in the eastern Blue Mountains on the island of Jamaica.