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Tolerance

In Suriname, I encountered a mosque next to a synagogue.  Both had been there for years – the synagogue first built by Portuguese Jews around 1723, then the building in the photograph replacing it in 1843.  The first mosque was built next door in 1929, with this new one built in 1984.

Suriname was a great place for me to visit – and this photo, of mosque and synagogue, shows part of the reason.  The population is a racial blend – the culture likewise a blend.  On the Flathead Reservation, the name MacDonald demonstrates how, over ten generations, a family of Scots became American Indians.  Suriname’s UN ambassador told me of his welcome by Scots MacDonalds – the name showed his family connection, not the skin color.

Way back in history, the Brits fought a war with the Dutch.  The Brits captured New Amsterdam, the Dutch captured Suriname.  At the war’s end, the Dutch kept Suriname (thinking it more valuable) and the Brits renamed New Amsterdam – New York we call it now. In Paramaribo, I met Cynthis McLeod, author of The Cost of Sugar and learned of the human cost of the early years of the sugar economy in a place where European companies, with transient managers from Holland, owned the people who worked the sugar plantations.  This site shows the number of slaves imported by country

The Dutch, 2,000 voyages and 500,000 people.  Suriname is a small country, even if we add the other Dutch colonies at the time.  All British North America, basically what became the US, had 1,500 voyages and 300,000 people.  The Confederacy, during the war between the states, had an estimated population of 5 ½ million whites and 3 ½ million slaves.  In 1863 with the abolition of slavery in Suriname, 33,000 slaves were freed.  The estimates are that Suriname’s slave population never was higher than 60,000.  

The numbers make their own arguments about how rough slavery was in the sugar industry – 500,000 from Africa to Suriname and the population never exceeded 60,000, versus British North America where 300,000 grew to 3,500,000 over the same time period. 

The finest cucumber I ever ate was in Suriname.

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