Editor’s note: In 2014, every month I will present a different theme for jeanluc.sr. Content on this website will often be dedicated to the monthly theme, but can overlap with other themes as well. Previous months included the themes Personal Branding and Love. In the month of March, I’ll be focusing on the theme Suriname Heritage. For an overview of all monthly themes, click here. For an overview of all articles on my website about the theme Suriname Heritage, click here.
When it comes to the history of a country, heritage is one of the dimensions that is ultimately overlooked. As one of the most culturally diverse countries of the world, Suriname also has quite a strong diversity in heritage.
Due to the high cultural diversity of the Surinamese population, Suriname enjoys a strong cultural heritage as well. With the notion of sustainably developing the cultural heritage of Suriname, the first Suriname Heritage Festival was brought to life in 2011. As the festival has shown immense growth (approx. 2.000-3.000 more visitors each year), the transformation from cultural heritage to cultural tourism and other forms of commercialization has also begun.
Aside from diversity in cultures, Suriname is also known for their biodiversity. Suriname’s ecosystem, mainly the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, has often been described as the beating heart of the Amazon. Both the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and Conservation International keep strong ties with Suriname to sustainably develop Suriname’s rich ecosystem. Conservation International’s report of sixty new species uncovered received worldwide coverage of all major International news networks and was even nominated as the Best News Moment during the 2013 Owru Yari Awards.
While this is great news, both WWF and CI remain cautious and focus on continuous education of the Surinamese population for sustainable development, as threats of the Gold Rush in Suriname destroying the Surinamese rainforest remain.
An often under-appreciated part of Suriname Heritage has been the colonial heritage. While recently, more and more light has been shed on the wrongdoings of slavery, and local politics has often used anti-imperialism as a weapon to unite locals into a new identity, the impact of the colonial times remains an important part of Suriname’s history. Together with the Central Nature Reserve, the Historic Inner City of Paramaribo features as one of the main UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Suriname. However, due to the continuous disregard of the Surinamese government and its own people, the UNESCO has threatened to remove Paramaribo from as a World Heritage Site.
Connecting with Suriname Heritage
When it comes to heritage, Suriname has a lot to offer. However, when it comes to protecting our heritage, as a nation we have to failed not only to nourish our greatest natural and colonial heritage assets, but simultaneously shown little support to help develop and preserve our food and cultural heritage. With Suriname Heritage as this month’s theme I hope to spread awareness among Surinamese citizens about the importance and relevance of our heritage and remind people worldwide that they too might have something they should cherish and protect.