SURINAM, SOUTH AMERICAJuly 29, 2014 (Geographic Guianas by Dominique Maison) Only a few minutes from the centre of Paramaribo is one of the beating hearts of Javanese culture. It has been there since the first Javanese migrants came across 120 years ago this year to this then Dutch colony from Indonesia, also a Dutch colony. Today there are over 70,000 Javanese who, to the sound of great festivities, are remembering their ancestors and the island they hailed from. These Javanese are today Muslims, and it is unknown how many Hindus were among the original migrants and what became of them. At the same time, Hindu immigrants were coming into Surinam and surrounding colonies from India.
Nowadays the 70,000 descendants of the Javanese migrants are to be found in all sectors of Surinamese society. They have managed to obtain numerous positions in the public sector (in health and teaching), as well as supplying the national parliament with its president in 2004.
In 1954 some of them undertook the arduous journey back to the land of their fathers. We have retraced their footsteps to recount their sometimes painful stories and to tell of the hopes of this community whose history is often but poorly known in French Guiana.
To read the interesting history of how Javanese culture has managed to survive over 12,500 miles away from the island where it originated, click on 'source' above.