#Day5 of #ABlackGirlNerdInTheDiaspora Series

A Spiritual Awakening took over my mind, body, and soul on today! On this evening I got a chance to witness and participate in a Afro-Surinamese ancestral veneration ritual, called “Winti”. According to Surinamese tradition, the human has three spiritual aspects/pantheons (similar to Orishas): the Dyodyo, Kra, and Yorka. These aspects have various duties including protection, determining reason and mentality, and absorbing life experiences to prepare for the transition. As the ritual took place I felt at peace starting with the washing of my hands and face with the blessed, sweet water to “cleanse away any negative ghosts and evil, bad spirits”, to observing the elders (dressed in blue and white traditional Surinamese garb) prepare the table of food and drink for the ancestors, to evoking the spirits through song, dance, and word. I was truly at one with the Creator!

So a little brief background: After the abolition of slavery in 1863, a ten-year period of economic slavery followed known as ‘De Periode van Staatstoezicht’ (the period of State Supervision). The period of State Supervision ended in 1873 and was followed by a very long period of mental and cultural slavery. 1873 is the actual year in which the Surinamese celebrate their independence (see the button in the pic below).

As we embark on the Surinamese Independence Day from the Dutch there are several rituals, events, and activities happening al over Amsterdam. Everything that led up to “Keti Koti”  that was on July 1 (Independence Day)
So as the drums played, the singing lingered, and I dancing with the new friends and the elders, I channeled my inner thoughts of appreciation to some folks who I know would appreciate this moment my Big Sistas Ifa Bi Idan Umoja​ , Kaya Ariminta Akinyela​ , Victoria Jo Washington​ , Deborah Jackson-Embers​ and Baba Akinyele Umoja​ !! You would have truly been in the spirit.

Tonight’s ritual was just what I needed to close out this first week in Amsterdam! To be honest I cannot really put it into words the experience that took place. It was and is a moment I will forever remember and cherish.

Pictured top l-r myself wearing an 1873 pin in solidarity with those that celebrate the true Emancipation day of the Surinamese people. Next is a commemoration table set-up for the ancestors. Bottom l-r Surinamese elders singing and dancing as part of the ritual. And a Surinamese handout telling the stories of the enslaved and how they obtained their freedom.
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Copyright 2015 Black Girl Nerds

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Grace Gipson is bi-coastal BGN (planting roots in Atlanta, GA and Oakland, CA) where she is doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley pursuing a degree in African American Studies (focusing on gender, race and representation in comic books). In addition to being a budding scholar, you can find Grace trying out new restaurants, catching a concert, or sipping on a tasty glass of wine.
  • Thanks for sharing. As a Surinamese living in the US, I really enjoyed reading this.