Ma Rochelle Passee, Welkom El Dorado, Cynthia McLeod, Uitgeverij Conserve, 1996. ISBN 90-5429-061-7
Subject: [Book] Welkom El Dorado
Cynthia McLeod is one of my favourite writers of Surinamese literature. She takes the reader back into history and one has the impression to live in Suriname of that period of time.
In Welkom El Dorado we read about the lives of huguenot families such as the Couderc or Labadie etc. Children are born, grow up and die as adults. Generations come and go. Ma Rochelle is the name of the plantation of the Couderc family. Slavery is abolished and it means the end of many plantations such as Ma Rochelle.
The book is about the good times and the bad times of the Couderc family in 19th century Suriname. It is a story about skin color. The Huguenots were whites but after a generation they are of mixed blood. The reader will see how important skin color was in colonial society. The shade of color was a determining factor in colonial life for upward mobility.
The main character Estelle is the child of a slave mother and white Dutch soldier. She marries Etienne Couderc a white Huguenot. Their marriage and offspring experience the many prejudices of colonial Suriname.
When slavery is abolished in 1863 many of the white families depart for the Netherlands and other countries. Despite the importation of new immigrants more plantations were liquidated or abandonned.
Thus when the story comes to an end the old generation has died and a new generation appears of children of mixed blood. These children are as precious as gold - and we have the title of the book 'Welkom El Dorado'.