Introduction / History The Saramaccan or Saramaka are a people group living in Suriname in the north east of South America. Since about the 1700s, the Saramaccan have lived mainly around the upper Suriname River and nearby. They speak the Saramaccan language. About half the Saramaccan language comes from Africa and some of the rest for example from English and from Dutch as the Netherlands used to rule Suriname.
In the civil war in Suriname in the 1980s to 1990s there were major problems for the Saramaccan. Contact with the rest of the world became very difficult.
The Saramaccan villages are near rivers for water, fishing and for carrying of items. Since the Suriname Civil War, the Saramaccan have had more western types of houses with concrete, wood and windows in them. The Saramaccan men do hunting and fishing and the women do horticulture. Rice is their main crop. Clothing and other items are now imported. Singing, dancing as well as playing the drums is well liked among them.
Among the Saramaccan, divination is used in marriage preferences. Men are allowed more than one wife. Men are only with their wives in the village for short periods. Children are looked after by individual men or women and not by couples. Girls often marry in their teens and boys in their twenties.
Elders among the Saramaccan are respected and divination is used regularly to try to get ancestors to give advice. They have a paramount chief and other officials. Their councils judge in local problems.
What are their beliefs? The Saramaccan have different religions. Divination plays a large part in their lives. They believe very much in contacting spirits. They have birth and death rituals. Some of the Samaraccan have converted to evangelical Christianity.
Prayer Points * Pray that Saramaccan elders will become Christians leading their people to Jesus Christ.
* Pray that God will give the Saramaccan dreams and visions revealing to them that Jesus Christ is the way to Salvation.
* Pray that the Saramaccan evangelicals will give their people the gospel message leading them to Salvation too.
Brokopondo district: Brownsweg, Centrum, Klasskreek, and Kwakoegron, communes, small border area; Para district: Bigi Poika commune; Paramaribo district; Sipaliwini district: Boven Saramaccan and Boven Suriname communes. (Source: Ethnologue 2016)