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Klaaskreek Saamaka Village

The Klaaskreek village is a transmigration settlement of Saamaka Maroons, who were forced to leave their ancestral lands when the Brokopondo lake was created after the construction of the hydro dam, some kilometers upstream of Jodensavanne. There are clear links between the Saamaka and Matawai Maroons, and the Jewish colonization around Jodensavanne. Many clans (lo) have names referring to the area or Sephardic names such as Matjau (from Machado), Nasi (from Nassy), Kadosu (from Cardoso), Biitu (from Brito), and Dombi (Dutch, from “dominee” Baseliers). The strongest link is evidently found in the language of the Saamaka which is very much influenced by Portuguese.

The Nasis, one of the original and influential clans of the Saamaka Maroons dominantly inhabit the Middle River portion of the Suriname River. Their origins are mainly from Jewish plantations near Jodensavanna where they were slaves of the Nassy’s, the colony’s most prominent Jewish family. Nasi-clan oral tradition informs that the plantations the first slaves fled from were at the Cassipora Creek. The savanna behind Ayo - just across the river from Jodensavanna - was the battleground between bands of marooned slaves and Jewish civil militia. Early Nasi raids are suggested in these areas. A Jewish mixed civil and military expedition spent six weeks following these maroon raiders and returned home with 47 prisoners and 6 hands of dead maroons.

An interesting account refers to the revolt of 1690 in a plantation at the Cassiwinica Creek belonging to a Jew named Immanuel Machado. For the Matjaus this raid was their first collective act, and act of terrible violence that would bind them forever together. Machado was killed by the slaves. They fled the plantation and lived for some time at the Matjau creek, upstream of Ayo. Another account mentions Kumako, an important village of the runaway Saamaka Maroons, where several Lo’s joined each other. The village was on a hill between Pikin Saramacca River and the Suriname River. According to preserved tribal memories, in this battle the settlement was destroyed by David Cohen Nassy, the aging but indomitable leader of the Jewish militia. An archeological project is currently implemented to research this former Maroon village of Kumako (Kofi Agorsah, p.c.).

There is a growing tourist development observed in the village of Klaaskreek, were local entrepreneurs and community leaders are creating riverside facilities and attractions and guides are active in interpreting the unique and traditional assets of the village and its people.

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