09 February, 2011

A bottle of rum

Marienburg..this village is known for there  sugar and rum...

We were driving threw New Amsterdam and suddenly we passed this old sugar mill factory and decided to stop and take a look. I took some photo´s , the place looked abandoned but peaceful. An old Javaan man came towards us and asked if he could guide us threw the ruines of Marienburg. His name is Tecket and he began to tell about the history of this ones so succesfull business now just another memory of the past.

It all started when Marienburg was a colony of England, in the late 1800s, workers were needed and the Dutch struck up an accord with the British to bring people from India over to work on the sugar plantations in Suriname (Marienburg). The hindu resisted from day one. And the situation got out of hand when the manager got his hands on several hindu women. The first strike was a fact and the Dutch military came over to `resolve`the issue.
Resulting in to a massacre of 24 and more people. Dedicated to them there is a monument in the middle of the plantation. This sturr up the fire and more and more strikes came. Till the situation couldn´t be handled the Hindu were set free. But Marienburg still needed to bring up cash so the Dutch colonists decided to bring over people from Java (Indonesia). The first 94 Javanese set foot in Suriname in August 1890. They were housed and put to work on the Marienburg plantation. These people were not slaves but contract workers although there wasn't much difference really. The men got 40 cents per day and the women 60cents.
Tecket, our guide was telling that they had a Ok life because they also got a piece of ground were they could do theire vegetation of rice and vegetables.
Under this system Marienburg became a very high profit business, with products like sugar, melasse and rum. The rum was of such a high quality that it won a price in Paris. It is known as one of the strongest liquers in the world with a alcohol percentage of 90, for export it is lowered to 81%. I ammediatly asked if they still sell Marienburg Rum. And yes there is a company that still produces rum under the name but it is not the authentic one. Schade...
In 1998 the company closed and all company buildings were dismantled. With this, the existence of the last sugar processing company in Suriname had come to an end. The Dutch sold the old mill for one gulden (that´s like one dollar) to the Javaan people as a symbol. The ground they live on and the 25 hectare ground where the mill is located is still property of a foundation in the Netherlands.

What a story! When we left the plantation I was totally silenced it took a while to recap. Suriname has such a history and it´s always good to know where you are from for knowing where you want to go.We gave Tecket a bottle of water as a symbol of redemption and a big thank you for the guidance.

All the parts came by boat from Amsterdam

Mom & Tecket

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