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Book source: Een Surinaams plekje in het hart van Sumatra, Ingrid Cosijn-Mitrasing,OSO, nummer 2, Oktober 1997, jaargang 16.

Subject: [History, Current Events] Suriname in Sumatra

Article:

Tongar in West Sumatra (Indonesia) is also known as 'dessa Suriname'. It is about 180 km driving by car from Padang. It was here when in 1954 Javanese from Suriname settled.

From 1890 to 1939 some 33,000 Javanese came to Suriname for a 5 year contract. Some 8,000 returned to Indonesia upon completion of the contract. The remainder stayed in Suriname. Indonesia became an independent country in 1949 and when in 1950 the Javanese in Suriname were given the opportunity to choose for the Indonesian or Dutch nationality, 75% choose the Indonesian nationality.

In 1951 a delegation from Suriname visited Indonesia to arrange the return of the Javanese. It was made clear that the returning Javanese from Suriname were going to be sent to some 2,500 hectare plot of land in the south of Sumatra. The Javanese in Suriname were disappointed that they could not return directly to Java. In 1953 a second visit to Indonesia was made to make the final arrangements with the Indonesian authorities.

In January 1954, the m.s. Langkoeas of the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd sailed from Paramaribo with 1014 returning Javanese. The voyage cost was sf 375 for an adult and sf 187.50 for children under nine. In several instances women and children left first while the husbands remained in Suriname with the intention to come later. But, because of the civil war between Java and Sumatra these families were never re-united.

The m.s. Langkoeas brought 300 families to Indonesia. At least 646 people were born in Suriname while four infants were born aboard ship.

Besides the 1014 passengers, the m.s. Langkoeas also took in tractors, trucks, jeeps, farming tools and other agricultural implements. These were all used by the Javanese upon their arrival in dessa Suriname.

On the 5th of February the m.s. Langkoeas anchored in the harbor of Telak Bayur in Sumatra. The passengers were disappointed that they had to spent one week in quarantine in Padang. There they were fed rice with tapioca leaves.

Within a few months about 198 houses were built, a school building, an infirmary, a community center and a small tapioca factory. The village soon became selfsufficient and it was even a model village.

The civil war from 1957 to 1959 caused a great set back to the 'dessa Suriname' as they lost all the trucks and heavy equipment. There was now also doubt among the settlers about their future and if it had been a good idea they had returned to Indonesia. Thus, from this moment no second boat left Suriname with returning settlers.

In 1967 some 400 transmigrant Javanese moved in 'dessa Suriname' and they all had to share what was in the dessa with the transmigrants. Since then dessa Suriname was no longer the same.

The third generation from these Suriname settlers has produced several prominent medical doctors, engineers and an ambassador. But the future of dessa Suriname looks bleak as the land owners want to turn the dessa in a palmoil plantation.

The 60 original settlers from Suriname (30 were born in Suriname) will then have to move and the last traces of 'dessa Suriname' will be gone forever.
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Met dank aan Albert Buys










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