Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Surinamese Music & Dance In The Netherlands

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases five videos of contemporary Surinamese music that was peformed in The Netherlands.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, educational, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

My thanks to the composers and performers of this music. My thanks also to the videographers and uploaders of these featured videos.

Suriname is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as Dutch Guiana. Suriname achieved independence from the Netherlands on 25 November 1975."..
Additional links to information about Suriname are found under the "Related Links" section below.

This post is an outgrowth of my interest in music & dance forms in Black cultures throughout the world. Lately, for some reason, I've been interested in the African roots & Caribbean/South American examples of the Conga line processional (single file) dance. I was therefore delighted to find these videos.

Prior to surfing the Internet for examples of Black music & dance in South America, I knew nothing about Surinamese culture. Unfortunately, I don't speak or read any language except English, so I don't know what these songs are about. However, the call & response pattern of the songs in these featured videos is very familiar to me since that pattern that is found in so many African & African Diaspora vocal and instrumental music. The music in these featured videos, and in the videos of the Afro-Surinamese Winti religious ceremonies that are showcased in a companion post remind me of traditional African music, and of traditional Caribbean music such as that performed for Haitian vodou ceremonies. The style of processional dancing found in these videos is also familiar for the same reasons.

Processional dancing to induce possession is a part of Haitian vodou rites. And that type of repetitive single file, circular dancing is also a part of 19th century or earlier African American religious ring shouts. I've also read that the earliest Conga line dances were religious based. From watching some of the videos of Surinamese social dancing, I've noticed instances where a dancer becomes possessed and dances in the center of the circle formed by other dancers. Am I right in reaching the conclusion that the Surinamese social dances that are shown in these featured videos had their source in religious music?

I ask this question with all due respect to this culture. Visitor comments and/or suggestions about online and/or off-line resources are welcome. Thanks in advance.


Video #1: combinatieXVI-Calvijn College live 1.mpg

Uploaded by kamakong01 on Nov 4, 2010

Video #2: Allakondre Kawina Band - Sunclub (live)

Uploaded by toto583 on Mar 31, 2011

Video #3: Kankantrie - Tutu doo le' lowe' 3

Uploaded by toto583 on Jun 9, 2011

Kankantrie - Tutu doo le' lowe' 3 (winti pre)

Video #4: Klein Maar Fijn - Sunclub (live)

Uploaded by toto583 on Mar 31, 2011

Video #5: kwakoe 2010 / coronaband

Uploaded by lloyddyprom on Jul 12, 2010

coronaband op het kwakoe festival 2010/ de dag van de finale /oranje - spanje

From World Almanac Festivals:
"The Kwakoe Summer Festival is the largest multicultural festival in the Netherlands that every Saturday and Sunday during July and August will be held in the Bijlmer in Amsterdam South East. Six long weekends, the organization offers a varied program of live music, film, music, sports, food, dancing, information, and meetings. Every year the festival has a different theme that is reflected in music, performances, art, literature and several elections."

What does Kwakoe mean?

In the African tradition it is customary that children bear the name of the day they are born. In particular, male offspring who were born on Wednesday were named "Kwakoe" ("Kwaku"). That tradition was continued by a number of Surinamese with African ancestry.

On July 1, 1863, slavery was abolished in Suriname. One hundred years later a statue of a slave was commissioned to commemorate emancipation. Since July 1, 1863 fell on a Wednesday, the statue was named "Kwakoe".*

*This quote includes my corrections of some of the English translation. The African naming tradition that is referred to in this quote is the Akan tradition of Ghana, West Africa & The Ivory Coast, West Africa.

Unfortunately, in 2011 the Kwakoe festival was canceled because of lack of funding.

Click for information about Surinamese music.

Click for a related pancocojams post.

UPDATE 5/22/2012
Thanks to commenter Afro-Europe for identifying the names of the music shown in the above videos. Afro-Europe also shared a link to this video of Surinamese music:

Bazuinkoor muziek live

Uploaded by cohmbry on Aug 8, 2010

live optreden van Grootbazuinkoor groep Sukru-tiki.
Vanuit bijlmertheater ter ere van het skowtu muziekproject op 3 april 2010.
Authentieke surinaamse dansmuziek met koperblazers en slagwerk.
sax 1 - mr-Jurmain
sax 2 -mr- Zilla
Trombone -mr- John "xc-productions"® Yakki Famirie©
Sousa/Bas - Mr. Roppa
SnareDrum/Basdrum/skratjie - Chris

Gefilmd door Cohmbry's Productions®©
Also, in the comment section that post whose link I gave to Afro-Europe's blog, he indicated that there would probably be a Kwakoe festival this year (2012).

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Viewer comments are welcome.


  1. Hi Pocojams, great videos! You really researched it. The music in the videos you posted is Kawina music, which is Creole music. But it's based on the real religous winti music which is called is Kauna. Here's a video of a so called winti pre, which is ceremony where people come into some sort of a trance. A winti is spirit, by the way. But the dancers can also get an Indian (indigenous) winti Here is a video

  2. Hi Pocojams, I made a mistake. Let me start all over. Kauna and Kawina is the same music. If the music is accompanied with a tuba and a big drum, than it’s officially called Biki Pokoe, which is party music. Pokoe, means music in Surinamese. Bigi pokoe is combination between kawina music and tuba and trumpet music.

    So video 1 is Bigi Pokoe, because there is also a tuba, but you can also hear the kawina rhythm

    Video 2 is kawina music

    video 3 is Bigi Pokoe

    Video 4 is also Bigi Pokoe

    1. Greetings, Afro-Europe!

      Thanks for sharing information about Surinamese music & culture.

      I updated this comment, referred readers to your posted comment, and added the video whose link you shared with me.

      I also hope that pancocojams readers interesting in the cultures & news about people of African descent in Europe visit your interesting afro-europe blog.

      Best wishes,

      Azizi Powell