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Book source: De Geschiedenis van de Kwinti, Wim Hoogbergen, SWI Forum, jaargang 10, nummer 1, Juni 1993, Paramaribo, Suriname.

Subject: [History] The Kwinti Tribe 1743-1763


In 1743 there was a village of Maroons near the entrance of the Saramacca in an area called Duivelsbroekzwamp. Not much is known who lived there. Except that archives dating back to 1770 show that there was a chieftain named Kofi. Thus the people were called Kofimaka-African-Surinamese. This name was used to the beginning of the twentieth century. Today these Maroons are called Kwinti. This is derived from the name Corantijn a branch creek of the Coppename. The Maroons lived there for sometime in the 19th century.

While the Bonis conducted a ferocius guerilla war against the Dutch the Kwintis preferred to live peaceful. Only one time in Suriname's history did they attack a plantation La Bonne Amitie in 1783. The chief of the attackers was Coffy. Kofi remained chief of the Kwinti for a long time. He died in 1827 and became chief around 1743 while he was still young. Before Kofi, chief Bokkoe appeared to have been their leader.

The Dutch used an Amer Indian by the name of Abraham to guide them to the villages of the Kwintis. The first expedition to find the kwintis returned after 10 days to Paramaribo without finding any Kwinti village. Then a run-away slave Cojo was captured in 1750. He was interogated at Fort Zeelandia and admitted to come from a weglopersdorp (runaway village) in the Duivelsbroekzwamp area. He could show the Dutch the location of the villages in exchange for his life was going to be saved. Thus a patrol was assembled of 50 civilians commanded by vaandrig Hentschel. There were also 101 slaves to carry the supplies and equipment for 14 days. This patrol discovered four villages surrounded by garden plots (kostgronden). Most inhabitants had fled but two women, one male and one child were captured. The Dutch established a military post in one of the villages which was manned by 30 soldiers and 30 slaves. This way the Dutch would prevent the Maroons of returning.

Cojo was given his freedom. He became a free-African-Surinamese and also got a job for eight schellingen a week.

By now you may ask what is so significant about the Kwinti. -The history of the Kwinti spans more than 250 years. -They were kept out the peace treaties from the 1760s. -They intruded in Amer-Indian territory and had fierce fights with them. -They are survivors because they continued to harbor (at least for a while) runaway slaves. -What is unique is that the Kwinti enemies were other slaves, Indians, maroons. -They found secretly some protection from the pacified Matawai tribe.

In 1765 patrols against the Kwinti were conducted by Captain Joo a slave. He volunteered with 24 other slaves to go out on patrols to capture or kill Kwintis and destroy their villages and garden plots. kwintis on 2 Feb 1765 tried to steal female slaves from a plantation at Altona. These slave patrols were rather successful and were now used more often. Sometimes they were accompanied by Dutch military. Maroons captured were often forced to lead a patrol to locate the Kwinti villages. At the least suspicion that the Maroon guide would betray the patrol he was mistreated by the patrol members. The slaves eagerness to volunteer to go on patrols to get rid of the Kwinti might be the frequent attempt of the Kwinti to steal their women.

Most of the Kwinti history is reconstructed from patrol reports. Thus by 1770 it was estimated that there were 400 Kwintis in the area.

When women and children were captured the adults were interogated at Fort Zeelnadia and if the plantation owner could be traced they were returned to the owner. One 'boscreool' who's owner could not be traced was auctioned with 5 children for f 860. The money was divided among the patrol members. Patrol members were paid f 25 for participating. They received f 50 for turning in a right hand of a killed Kwinti or Maroon.

Around 1769 Gov Gen Jean Nepveu established the corps of 300 free African-Surinamese or "redimusu" also called 'black rangers'. They played an important role in Suriname history. The Kwinti and Matawai at first had numerous fights and although they agreed to cooperate the Matawai chief Musinga changed his mind and obeyed the treaty obligations and turned in Kwintis who had attacked plantations.

Not much attention was paid to the Kwinti from 1770-1775 as the Boni required the Dutch full attention. After 1776, the Kwinti crossed again the Saramacca to set up new villages. Thus from 1776-1779 very little information is found in the archives. In 1779 Indians began fighting with the Kwinti who had set up villages on their territory and thus new patrols were sent to the the area. Even the Ndjuka joined the patrols against the Kwinti menace.

At this time in history, the Kwinti began to fortify their villages. They also introduced booby traps and they placed guards along the patrols leading to their villages. These guards gave early warnings when patrols approached the villages. Another patrol was sent out when on 26 Nov 1783 the Kwinti attacked the plantation La Bonne Amitie on the Paracreek. They killed the supervisor Maas and destroyed the plantation houses taking 12 slaves among them 9 women.

On the way to the plantation La Bonne Amitie the Kwinti came on a small camp where they found 2 runaway slaves April and Apollo. These two were used by the Kwinti as their slaves. Apollo later escaped but was captured by the Redimusu. Later Apollo joined the Redimusu but when he was drunk and deserted his post he was later apprehended and put to death for desertion.

The Court of Police in Paramaribo did not give the Kwinti any rest as a patrol was sent out immediately when a report of an attack on a plantation was received. The Indian chiefs were also ordered to keep an eye on the Kwintis in their area.

1792-1802, Nothing was reported about the Kwintis in the archives. No military patrols were sent after the Kwinti in the 19th century. The Kwinti was not officially pacified but there was a status quo. The Kwinti left the plantations alone and the plantation owners did not hunt the Kwinti. Then in 1824 reports appear that the Kwinti turned over runaway slaves to the Matawai who would receive a reward which they in turn shared with the Kwinti. As up today, some Kwinti live among the Matawai. Other after lots of quarrels went their own way and settled near the Coppename. The Dutch recognized the Kwinti as free African-Surinamese in 1887. Chief Allemoen became the leader of the Corantijn African-Surinamese tribe.


Met dank aan Albert Buys

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