NDYUKA (Suriname, French Guiana)


IndexAmericasSouth AmericaSuriname → Ndyuka


Also: Saramakans


As excerpted from Hurault (1961)[1]:


“Boys go to sleep at the home of a brother, an uncle, a comrade; the same for girls who have not yet reached puberty; but it is not the same for girls who have reached puberty; they are subjected to strict supervision. […] Whereas little girls before puberty are left free to come and go, older girls are the object of constant surveillance. They are always under the surveillance of one of their near relatives specifically designated. If they have permission to go dancing in another village, they must present themselves upon arrival to an uncle, an aunt, an older brother who will watch over them all evening. Sometimes they build for a girl a little house where she sleeps alone... but she is double-locked into it for the night. […] It often used to happen that a girl might be promised by her mother to a man from her first years (they still say, although that is no longer practiced, poti mofu na umã, “to put his mouth on a girl," meaning by that to have received a promise of marriage). This plan always used to remain subject to the girl’s assent when she grew up and did not constitute a contract, strictly speaking; it did not involve any payment or compensation whatever. A girl could not be obligated to a marriage which was absolutely displeasing to her, but the mother's authority was great enough to make these marriages come about in most cases. […] If the girl is deflowered too young, her mother does not give her the [.] and continues to forbid her to have sexual relations, for she fears that she may become pregnant. Now for a girl, becoming pregnant without having concluded a contract of maintenance with a man is an extreme shame, for that means she is not worth anything. […] The general opinion is that girls can no longer be held down, that they escape more and more from the authority of their mothers; many of them begin to run wild at about 14 or 15, and people are obliged to marry them off precipitately at 15 or 16.” (p217, 218, 219)


W. Van Lier (1940:p263)[2]: “Kinderen mogen [...] alle gesprekken bijwonen, ook die wat betreft sexueele dingen en ze mogen vragen stellen en worden wel eens geëxamineerd. Zooals reeds gezegd, mogen bij een bevalling meisjes, hoe jong ook, tegenwoordig zijn”[3]. Prepubertal arrangements are not always followed through (p270).











Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Hurault, J. (1961) The Boni Refugee Blacks of French Guiana. Dakar: IFAN

[2] Van Lier, W. F. (1940) Aanteekeningen over het geestelijk leven en de samenleving der Djoeka’s (Aukaner Boschnegers) in Suriname, Bijdragen Taal-, Land-, & Volkenk Nederlansch-Indie [Holland] 129-294

[3] “Children may remain present during all conversations, including those concerned with sexual matters, and may ask questions and sometimes they are questioned. As indicated before, girls are allowed to be present at deliveries no matter how young” [DJ].