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Black Journal is an on-the-air magazine reporting on the personalities, ideas, and issues that affect Black America. It attempts to achieve balance by reporting from a Black perspective. If it is true that the continent of Africa and the continent of South America were at once one landmass that separated, then as the proponents of the continental drift theory believe, South America and Africa would fit together as two pieces in a puzzle. In addition to the landmass is coming together, it also follows that the cultures would be basically the same. Because of the presence of the European on the African continent, the African culture has been modified and has incorporated many European customs. It is just possible that the most pure intact African culture in the world exists in Serenam, South America. It is also possible that Alan Counter and David Evans, two Blacks from Harvard University, have pioneered the discovery of this fact. On this edition of Black Journal from Boston through film, pictures, and discussion, Dr. Counter, a neurobiologist and Mr. Evans and electrical engineer,
will share with the television audience their discovery of the original brother. The jungle is extremely dense, and once you get outside of Serenam, the density of the jungle first appears. And what we have on the way to Tobin Island is an outline of the rivers. Tobin Island is one of the most prominent mission outposts, and you can very easily land there because there's a place to land. Once we get there, many of the villages will run out to meet you. Some people who are living at the hospital there and some who are living in the surrounding villages. And that's usually your first point of interest once you get inside the country. This is that the confluence of the Yawa, the Mara-Wingian, the Tapinahoni River, and from there, it's down toward Brazil. Once you get there, you are right away struck by the fact that you've stepped back several hundreds of years because the people are dressed just as they did in the 1600s when many of them came over as slaves. And a lot of the interaction between the people is centered around just their basic culture, their history.
They'll talk to you about it very readily. Those dugouts are from a solid tree. A tree is felled, it is split in half, hung out, rocks, hot rocks are placed in boiling water, and then the dugouts are shaped. And they are the only kinds of boats that can navigate those rivers and very, very treacherous waterfalls and maelms. That's right. And to be a people who theoretically have not had the mathematical sciences, these people have an amazing capacity for designing instruments and designing boats to go through those waters. They have a great deal of symmetry. From Boston, Black Journal presents The Original Brother. When Black Journal originates in various cities, viewers in that area can participate by calling in. This edition from Boston features Dr. Allen Counter, Professor of Biology at Harvard University, and David Evans, Associate Director of Harvard College Admissions Office, and now our host and moderator, Tony Brown. You brothers have gone, how far in the bush is the Juke of Tribe?
They began some 40 or 50 miles, but we went, I would say, some 300 miles into the south-eastern section of Suriname. I know, you correct me if I'm wrong. Now, as my research indicates, I've read stories in the New York Times, New York Daily News about the Juke of Tribe, which is basically the group in Suriname that you've gone to explore. How far did you go in comparison to the other reports that I've referred to? Most of the other reporters have taken a very peripheral approach. They've gone right at the edge of the City of Power Mariebeau, the capital of the country. But we went several hundreds of miles into the bush, and the farther we go into the bush, the more likely we're to come across juke of people, former African peoples, who are remotely involved with the Western world. How did you get that far? Well, several years before that, I've been going to Brazil to study voodoo and medicine in the hills, and I've been told that as I go farther and farther into the bush, and involve myself with the macumba people and others, that there were these people farther into the bush, who were more African than African themselves are today in a way, that they had preserved much of their culture. We decided to go into the bush, and I came back from Brazil, spoke with David Evans about it, and we decided to embark upon a journey, paid for ourselves, by the way, and to go as far as we could.
We were also guest of the Suriname government. They provided great deal of service. Were you guest of the Suriname government when you went to Suriname? No, we weren't. We knew one man. Frata Van Huzden, a retired professor, and also associated with the Moravian Church, Alan knew him through professional work and with the mentally retarded and hearing deficientist. We knew him, and when we came to town, he told us that he had been invited to the American consul there in Suriname, and he said, if we wanted to go, he would try to get us invited too. It was there that we met the Minister of Economics, the Minister of Development, the Director of Protocol, Baltic Locom, and their security people, and they were most cordial to us. It was there that his Excellency, just Rins, allowed us to become his guest and provided a great deal of unexpected financial and other assistance. Not two planes. They provided you with two planes. Two planes, Cooks, Barrows, Guides, and very good guys that could take us into the bush, and they also sent that their nephew along, Baltic Locom did, to assure us of his concern about our welfare.
He didn't have a son. It was also rather interesting that our interpreter, and God, Tommy Van Omer, and once lived in the United States, and he was brought here by Marcus Garvey as a maritime engineer for what was to be the Black Star Line, which never came to be as you know. And he lived in the United States for 10 years, and he was well-cautured along those same paths that he took us, some 10, 12 years before he had taken Chakavara. I have a number of questions, and the public has a number of questions, so let's see at this moment if we can find out what one of the viewers might want to know about this very interesting trip. Hello. Hello. Go ahead. You're on Black Journal, please. All right. I would like to know what is the type of religion that they found that the people there were practicing? All right. Thank you.
Well, I can start with that, since I was primarily interested in their medicines and religions, and how they combine them. They have Obeyah priests and medicine men, and they believe, and they divine being, a single divine being, with several lesser gods. One of the main gods is the god called Koromanti, who expresses the spirit of the rebellious slaves. And when they were, in fact, on plantations, and ran away, and the people who never became slaves, who jumped off the boat as soon as they got to America, to South America, that is, were known as the Koromantes, and they, in fact, represent the gods of the bush today, the bad Koromantes, as they are called. They are literally called bad, because they were the most rebellious. And as you know, many of the slave owners did not want to bring in Koromanti people, because they were known to rebel and overthrow. It might appear that, to some, that they have adopted, in a limited sense, a Christianity, but in times of stress, they will go into their own religion, which is the religions of West Africa. They, what they have done, and I think it is appropriate here to talk about the history. These men and women were brought over just as Americans, blacks were, to be slaves.
And some of them, as Al had just said, did not remain slaves one day. They fled into the bush, some would think, and they were going to try to get back to Africa. And they went into the bush, the temperature, the, the fauna, the, the flora there in, in Suriname, is very much like Africa. And so it was acceptable, physically acceptable to them. And so they were able to establish a little Africa there in America. I think that a number of slides that you took in Suriname really have quite a graphic description of the trip. Yes. Well, this is a slide of our journey. We're just beginning to head for the Suriname bush. And this plane was provided by the government officials, as Excellency Just Rins, and a pilot was also provided for us here. And here we're heading down the Suriname River there, going into the heart of the bush country. We're near to Stolman Island, which is, I'd say, some 250 miles from Paramiribo, the capital. And this is, with the airport.
Now, this is a picture of the Minister of Development, Esit. And Esit's shaking hands with Grumman Abar Kunni, and Grumman is outward for great men, our paramount chief. And this is one of them there. We had the rare honor of being invited to a parlay by these men that are shown here. The one to the left is Balters Locom. There's David, of course. And there's his Excellency Just Rins. They invited us to a parlay between the bush chiefs and the people of the Parliament of Suriname. And here I'm talking with the great chief, the Grunman Abwakunni, who leads a large Saramakan-Juken tribe. This is Alan Chacon, the hand of the Consul General to Suriname for the United States. His name is Mr. Johnston, Donald Johnston. He was very cordial to us too. We had us at his home to invite us to members of the government. These are the two Grumman of the largest tribes of Black Africans there. On your left is Abwakunni and on your right is Ghazan. And then the center is Abadja, our captain, who's protecting them.
And he's their escort. He's one of the village captains. And here you see a typical scene of a child who is going to negotiate or navigate that boat up the river. The children in age three or so are taught these skills. They are not afraid to teach their children important skills, such as navigating boats through the rapid, so they can handle themselves. And here you have one of them who has gone to work in the Alunaman industry in town. And he's come back. He's going to take gifts to his fiance. I guess you would call it in the Western world. And as you can see, his culture has been modified as he is embraced the Western culture. Go ahead. Here we see now dancing children. When we went into a village, very often the children would come out the moment we put our tape recorded down and began to dance. And we were so impressed with the fact that they liked Western music very much and enjoyed dancing. And finally, the older people would come out and dance, the women, and then the men. And we would all get together and try to establish rapport with the groups in each village down the river. This typifies just the beauty of the children there. The bright eyes as Stedman said when he wrote in his book in 1700s.
The fine, strong features. We are forced to admire. And this is a very typical young black village girl. And you have to constantly remind our viewers that these Americans, they live in South America. So they are Afro-Americans. Now here is a religious item here hanging at the entry to all villages and at the exit to the villages. And one passes through that it is supposed to cleanse your mind of evil thoughts. As you can see, the rooftop is made of an aluminum. Because box side is one of the main minerals in the soil there. And it is exported by many industries that are there now. This typifies to the art. We will discuss the art later in the program. But each building is adorned with some of the most fantastic wood carvings. Wood carving and wood auditory is cultivated very diligently in the jukka society. And these beautiful colors, many of them they make themselves, some of them they trade for. But each hut is decorated in this fashion.
And there you have the flag of the Suriname. The Suriname people, those five flags on there, red, black, brown, white and yellow signifying the major ethnic groups there. They are supposed to be the most integrated society that is throughout the land in the world. And the meat of the boat is what we had to eat when we went down river. I think that is really significant. That was our barbecued or smoked meat to take down river. All right, let's take another call. Hello. Hello. Yes, you are on black journal, ask your question please. Yes. Now, from what I have seen about the religion and the art of this tribe, one can really see some similarity between it and traditional African religion and art, traditional African art. Now, I'm wondering if you found anything in the language and in their music, which you could definitely trace back to traditional African music. Indeed, they named that children after the days of the week, just as they do in Ghana. For instance, Quasi, KWA SI is for a boy born on Sunday.
Quasi is for a boy born on Wednesday. And Kwame is just as Kwame and Krumas for a boy born on Sunday. Now, it is interesting, Quasi, there was one man whose name was Quasi Blocka, which translates from that language into Sunday black man. And a writer for a major newspaper, a white writer, went down, interviewed this man, and he indeed came back and wrote the man's name down, not as Quasi Blocka, but as Mr. Quasi Black. Now, I think this typifies how distortions take place. It turns out, too, that their main language combines English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and several African languages. And in answer to the gentleman's question, there's so much evidence of Africanism in their art, in their language. And in fact, the Ghanaian History Department was there this year. There's some evidence that Ghana wants to claim them. So they certainly represent West Africa. They preserve much of the culture better than it can be seen on the West Coast of Africa in some places today. And we're sure they are truly the original brothers, the Africans.
All right. Speaking of the original brothers. Hello. Right. Your own background. Do you feel that the people living in that part of Brazil are they freer than people living here in America? And also, if they are not, are they being forced into counties, such as Black people are forced over here in this country? Thank you very much. They are, indeed, free. They fought for nearly 100 years a guerrilla war against the Dutch and against mercenaries sent in by the Dutch. And they, they were petitioned by the, by the Dutch for peace. The first peace treaty was signed in 1749. And the Dutch agreed to send twice per year provisions to them. And what happened? They did not sign a sufficient treaty with all of the tribes. And on the way, the first year, some of the supplies were intercepted by Chief Zamsam, who was in the, in the, in the, in the idiom of the American Black community,
who was a bad dude. He intercepted this, and then the Gramaans up the river thought that they had been deceived again by the whites. And so the war broke out again, and they went on, and the second treaty was signed in, in 1757. I think it's clear that in this tribe, Black has always been beautiful. It's something new, perhaps, and the American, after American scene, but it's always been a very deep pride in their history and their culture. In fact, the Bush captains and Bush chiefs were taken back to Africa last year, and a gesture by the government. And in one of the toasts, the people were embarrassed because one of the Bush chiefs stood up and said, the drinks we're drinking were probably paid for with the money you got from selling us many hundreds of years ago. So they still remember their history, they still feel free, and remember they chose to live in the bush. They ran away from slavery and chose to live in a bush that was compatible with what they had known in Africa. And they've survived until this day, and I think that's remarkable in any sense. The two of you brought back, what I think, is some very interesting film.
And so perhaps we'll take a look at you in action in Cernan with the Juca tribe. As we go from village to village, you see the Thats roofs, you see the same type of huts that have existed since the 1600s, with an occasional modification of corrugated aluminum. And that boxite, which is the raw aluminum, is the major industry in the country and a major American aluminum company has been there since 1912. For that reason, they have used the boxite as a medicinal form. You'll see it, it's a white form often rubbed on the faces of children and others. And it is also, you'll see it in the aluminum roofing. They can't understand how, however, why the westerners would want their religious medicine, which is boxite. Now, you'll find that in order to get down river, we're going upstream, since the rivers from South America flow north, we have to have a person at the stern of the boat. We have to have a person in the front of the boat to navigate the rocks,
because the rivers are so treacherous that you could easily be cut up by the rocks in the ramparts. So we have to have somebody at the head of the boat. As we go down river toward Prince Giana and the base of Zeranam, the top of Brazil, we see trade boats from Prince Giana coming up river to make trade with the different villages and with the Indians in the area. We're also at this point, we're not very far from the French prison colonies, which is Devil's Island and Saint Laurent. And it's interesting that when the escape, the blacks who had fled slavery into the bush and it fought and had the treaty signed, they would come out to the Saint Laurent and look over at those French prisons and they said something to the fact that now this man cannot enslave us. He goes and enslave his own. They thought the prisoners were slaves and they said something is therefore sick about this man and that he had to enslave someone. All of the villages are built at the head of these rapids. Because in the 1600s when the Dutch were fighting these slaves, these former slaves, they could easily fight the Dutch off as they came up river.
And so the villages had interesting names. One of the names was... One was Bucco, which meant I shall loathe before I shall be taken. The other one was Gato Sabe, which means Gato only knows me and no one else. And Cobrie me, which means essentially hide me oaths around in Virginia and there were others that were not... Like Millie me, which means do disturb me if you dare. And you can see the poetry and the defiance in all of the names of the villages. This is how they thought then and this is how they think now. Until this day, the Saramaka and the Duke will believe that the whites or wetten man might at any moment try to re-inflate them. That's correct. And so they handle them at a distance. That's right. They still respond to them as they did hundreds of years ago. And most of the village scenes when we arrived there, the children would come out first. The children would come out and sort of explore us. And then finally, the older children would come out next. Then the women would come out. And finally, the men would come out lastly to meet and interact with us.
We received our greatest reception, of course, from the children in many of these villages. You'll notice that in every village we went in, we found that there was an appreciation for music. People made their own music with read instruments, with drums. And when we stayed there for a while and they developed rapport with the number of the people, we would bring out our tape recordings of western music. And we found that there were several artists that they tended to prefer. But of all the music we played, we played everything from portions of rock model and rock model, and we wrapped it on a theme of Paganini to certain, very popular, contemporary soul artists. And they tended to prefer the soul music. In fact, our guide, when you're Van Omerin, indicated to us that that soul music beat
has been in Zeranon for over 300 years. In almost every village we visited, the moment we put western music on, many of the village children began to dance. And finally, some of the village adults were dancing, in some cases. You'll see David dancing with some of the girls in the village. And it's amazing how much like westerners, they tended to dance. When you say these are black westerners, and I think we should qualify that, because the music that we played was very current, what you would call soul music. And you can probably tell from the rhythmatic dancing there that it is a soul music. And they're very, very similar in the kinds of dances. And they were very free with their dance. That is, that's one of the signs of their happiness. They would invariably dance. They have dance ceremonies that are quite popular in that section of the country. And among different villages, they come together to dance. But the moment we put on western music, this sort of triggered dancing in the children right away. This little woman dancing with a white on her face has been treated by the medicine man recently.
And that white is to get rid of the evil spirits as they indicated to us, and to allow her to overcome whatever illness she has. Now, you can see how similar to western dance. Because here she's dancing with David, who's clearly knowing a soul's step. But notice the children, many of whom see me and some of whom don't, are still dancing. All right, let's take another call and see what's on. Hello. You're on Black Journal, please ask your question. Yes. Are you applying, or at least explain, will you please the connection between the coast and the coast and the coast area and the existence of what you could try? Thank you very much. Well, I can probably try to handle that. It seems that the area, the foliage, the flora fauna of the area of South America is very similar to that of the coast of West African many regards. I've looked at many of the plants, and it seems that this enabled them to survive much better, perhaps, than they would have had they been in America. Some other place, or North America, that is.
I sort of investigate it this indirectly. If you take their main carbohydrate staple, which is the maniac cassava, the cassava eulisima, it contains a cyanogenetic glycoside called lino-marin, which induces neuropathy in the nervous system at attacks various aspects of the nerves, and especially the auditory nerve. Well, this bitter cassava plant, or tuber-like plant, is grown all the way down the west coast of South Africa. If you were to draw a line, it would be a large dark line, and it grows around the top of South America and the west coast of Africa. And you could fit the two together by simply drawing the lines. And it seems as if this kind of explains, too, that they may have been some form of common knowledge. In addition to the culture being very similar. In addition to the transplanet cultures being very similar. Clearly, they survived in that jungle because it had some of the same features as the African forests, if you will. All right, let's see what another. Hello. Yeah. You're on black journal. Please ask a question. I wanted to know how much research was done before the gentleman made their trip, and how much research was done afterwards, and just how they were able to put all this material together. Thank you very much.
Well, I might start off by saying that, as I indicated earlier, I was researching voodoo and medicine throughout Brazil, and trying to make my own little private investigations not funded, by the way, just my own interest. And in fact, once I spoke to David Evans about this, when I returned from Brazil, we began to read John Gabriel Stedman's book, which is a real authoritative book on the subject, written in the 1700s. And from there, we began to research the ideas of the tribal existence to determine how much they are today, like they were at that time. We began to do as much research as we could. There are several books written about these people. I think David might have something to say about that. We've examined almost all of them that we can find. But you are planning. This was a preliminary visit. This was not considered thorough scholarly research. We must admit that we are amateur anthropologists. And amateur filmmakers, I believe. Yes, yes. Thank you. We plan next year to take a linguist, a psychiatrist, an anthropologist, and several students to do. We feel that these people are so important that thorough and rigorous scholarship.
But why do you feel that they are so important? I feel that they are important because they are the answer to the question. What would we have been if? That's right. We, black Americans have asked that question. What would we have been if Nat Turner had grown into thousands in Virginia? If DC had not been betrayed. If this, if that... I think they represent clearly a control group. They represent a sort of an experimental control group. And in answer to this gentleman's question, we are just beginning to do research on these people. It's so much too important for two people, such as ourselves, a neurologist and an electrical engineer to say that we've done all of the research. We're just beginning to. So I can be clear. Are you saying that they're important because this is the last or, as you view it, the most intact African culture? I think that's true. In addition to that, they're slowly being eroded away by the input of industry. There is the aluminum industry there. And we feel that unless we get some of the information about the people now in their history, that only the ones very, very far into the bush will be surviving, say, ten years from now. So we have done some research and we're planning to do much more.
This is a great interest to us. Okay, let's take another question. I'll get the gadget to work. Hello. Yes, you're on Black Joe. I was in Cernam over five years ago and I was among those people, the Duke of People, and I was among them those that were around the Aluminum plant. It's a Tarnam, I think that's the name of the place. I saw some of their wood carvings and my question is, is there any difference between the carvings of those people and the carvings of the other people furthering? And the next question is, when I was there, I was told, you know, not to associate them because, you know, they have, they believe in voodoo and they go into a lot of religious stuff, you know, which can be harmful to you. And I just like to know if you found that feeling or if you were told of that, you know, when you were there. Okay, thank you.
The people in the city are ambivalent about these Africans. They are ambivalent because these Africans were freed. They set themselves free. They signed a treaty with the government in 1761. And those who remained on the plantation were not emancipated until 1863 or 102 years later. So they are ambivalent at best about the people in the bush. And we too were told such things as be very careful and watch this or watch that. But what we found were some of the most friendly and unbelievably beautiful people that I've ever met. I recall in Stedman's book in 1700s, he described them so vividly. And I think they can be described the same way today. He said, they're strong features. They're bright, black eyes. They're fine, white teeth. We are forced to admire. He said, they are proud and sincere people who possess so much friendship for one another that they need not be taught to love their neighbor as themselves. And even the poorest black, he said among them, having only an egg scorns to eat it alone. But were there a dozen present?
He would cut or break it into equally as many shares. These are the kind of people we met. You're saying that they're a very humane group. Now let's see if we can draw some in understanding their societal values. Let's see if we can ask some questions in terms of our contemporary problems. What about the concept of crime? Well, there is no crime. There is no real crime. They don't have a police force. They don't police themselves. It is all settled in the family. And the most brutal crime that we heard of while we were there was a fist fight. And this is usually for poaching or maybe stealing fish. And the arguments that ensue typically involve women. And it seems that this has historical precedence in the sense that women were sort of insured, so to speak, because many of them were on the plantations. And the men were flee into the jungle. And so they would go back to get women off the plantations. But along this line, too, I remember asking the Bush chief, the great Graman Abouakani. I said, how do you feel about whites calling you and people in the city savage and primit him? And he said something I should never forget, Tony.
He said, as I recall it, he said, you know, we are aware of the fact that the white tribes have taken machinery, in gadgetry, and you met technology. And he said, they've gone far up river with us. He said, and they can teach us a lot about this. He said, but we have taken humanity, and we have gone far up river with humanity. And he said, there is a great deal that they can learn from us about humanity. And for the first time in my life, as I said at the feet of this great wonderful black man, this grandfather of ours, I said, with significance, right on, be free. All right. I really did. Hello. Hello. Is this black channel? Yes, it is. Please ask your question. Well, sir, I'm here. I'm here watching the show with an Ethiopian friend of mine. Well, I was wondering, especially you might be able to help this brother out here. You mentioned that the Macumbra people of Suriname are African descendants. Well, I was wondering, would it also help blacks in Africa, American, the West Indies find their identity in the essence that these people were taken from Africa and also help West Indians and black Americans find their identity
in so far as the tribal ancestry is concerned? They are a mixed group. Their language, as Alan has said, is a combination of maybe five Western languages and about eight or ten African languages. There is some East African languages. Band two. I have here before me about maybe 30 words that are the same in the jukle language of South America and in, say, Fonte and Akhan, Ibu and Igbu and West Band two. And so they are, they have indeed maintained an African culture right here in the Americas. And it would, I think, help many of the West Indian blacks, North American blacks, et cetera, to give them a sense of perspective if some thorough and rigorous scholarship were done on these people. And they did not mind you. There'll be those running off down and thinking they will be readily accepted. We were not readily accepted. We were referred to as Bachera at first, which is that word for white man. But you see, that word for white man is cultural.
And it's not color. Do you have any of the African governments shown in interest? Oh, yes. In fact, the Ghanaian History Department has been there much quite a bit this year, because they tend to want to claim the jukle people as being from Ghana. And certainly, as Davis pointed out, there are many features of the culture, the art, the language that would suggest that there are many sort of a shanti or people around the Ghanaian area in that particular section. All right. Go ahead. You're on Black Journal, please. Hello. Hello. You're on Black Journal. Please ask your question. My question is, do these tribes play the talking drums? And if they play them, can we have a sample of it? And number two, you have a picture in the background. Show some of the gallows and a person sort of hanging from it. And my third question is, can you give us a sample of their religious music? You've given us their communal music. All right.
Thank you. Maybe I should try to start off and say that I have looked at their drums. The Appente drum, the babula drum. And these drums are played for religious ceremonies. When they are praying to their great god, they play the drums. I cannot master the drum playing. I was very impressed by it. And I have some of the drums with me here at home. But I know. Did you record any of the... We did record some of the examples. And they were simply regular rhythmic padding with the hands. And not the sticks as the Indians of South America, the Aurook, the Okoe Indians use their hands. And this is very typical, of course, of African drum playing. I was going to say an answer to the second question, if I might. The gallows. Sure. The Stedman drew these pictures. Many of the... All of the pictures you see here. He etched them in the 1700s. And we think that they represent authentic sites. This is what Stedman saw. And this is what he etched, if you take a look in his book. I would like to talk about that person hanging from that gallow on the hook. He was one of 11 and 1732 captured leaders that were captured by the Dutch.
And they were put to death in public, like that. Well, why would they... It's been my impression that hanging was always by the neck, which is... This is new information to me. Why would they hung in such a fashion? In a sense, Tony, there was a sort of dignity considered in hanging a person by the neck. Hard as it is to believe. And the slave had to be treated differently, of course, or the rebel, the person who ran away. They had to be hanged by the ribcage so that they would simply suffer. That's a form of torture. You see, there's dignity to having... getting it over with very quickly, so to speak. And the slaves were not a court at this dignity. Hopefully, you understand what I'm saying. All right. Hello. Hi. I'm interested in talking to Dr. Counselor and Mr. Evans. And I want to know whether they're aware of the fact that there's an isolate off the coast of South Carolina on St. Helena's Island. And whether there are any similarities that they could draw between the two. And one more question. If Dr. Cantor has done any blood group studies on the people in Suriname
and can he draw any correlations between the people there and those in Ghana? I would like to answer that. I have here some Gullah language and some Juka in English. And Gullah is the language spoken by those off the coast of South Carolina. And Bacchra is that word? It's a Gullah word for white band. And Bacchra is the Juka word for white band, very close together. Pinder is the Gullah word for peanut, P-I-N-D-E-R. And the Juka word is P-I-N-D-A. That's an interesting point, Dave, especially in light of the fact that many of the blacks on the South Carolina coast were isolated during slavery because there was malaria in that area. And white standard to believe that blacks were impervious to malaria. And they also believe that it was natural for blacks to have consumption as they call it, the inner TB. So they were isolated. And because they had the sickle trait that allowed them to get rid of the malaria germ except that hypothesis, they were able to survive there. And whites were not. So they were isolated from whites and kept much of their culture there. And I should tell you a second question about blood groupings.
No, we have not, but that's one of the things we plant. In fact, next week, I'll be working on blood groupings as a neurobiologist. And hopefully, we'll do that when we go back this summer since we're taking physicians with us. Or do you intend to compare blood groupings in Ghana with blood groupings in the Juka tribe in Suriname? This may be one of our sort of scientific treatments, if you will, of the kinds of data we're going together. But I can't say exactly yet. You ran the sickle cell trait and the relationship there. I wish you would explain that again. Well, let me just briefly say that not a great deal is known about it. But it is known that the sickle cell that blacks had in Africa served a purpose. And the purpose was apparently to fight off sleeping sickness and malaria. So that the germ that penetrated, so to speak, the body was, if you'll accept this sort of simple explanation, was gobbled up by the sickle red blood cell. It was curved in such a way that it could gobbled up. But that's very superficially treated. Go ahead, you're on black journal, please.
I'm watching the movie and that these people have shown. And I'm just wondering. I noticed there's a lot of malnutrition in this particular area. And I saw you seeing the same thing in Haiti. And I was just wondering, what is being done for this malnutrition? And what is the lifespan of these people in this particular area? You take the lifespan. All right, thank you. I think you want to know, first of all, about malnutrition. And if you see a similarity of what's being done and what is a life expectancy. Well, first of all, we saw no real evidence of malnutrition. These people are clearly healthy. A few people who have seen them and some people in the 1920s were studying Devils Island and came across these people and began to write a few words about them. They found, too, that even in those days, they were very healthy. The picture is certainly depict very strong, sturdy people. And it appears that the farther they get away from western civilization, the healthier they are. They have a diet which consists of a number of foods. They cook their meats. They eat quite a bit of fish. They even know how to cook the piranha fish. They smoke their meat.
They capture wild boar in the bush. They eat yams. They eat white potatoes. They eat rice. And they're certainly a healthy people. Fruits and nuts are in their diets. And they also eat the red monkey, the monkey meat of the jungle, which is a delicacy. And we tasted of that and found it to be true. So, in other words, it's not true, according to what you observe, that they are on a basically starch diet. They have a very good diet. And only those that are around, as one of the earlier callers alluded to, around the aluminum plants, which are invading their territory. Those that are sort of taken in by that are suffering in a way. Only those have to live in huts and things like that other than their own grass huts. And it begun to depend. The second part of the question about the lifespan, it's about 70 years. It's about 70 years. And maybe that's because of natural selection. We don't know. It could be that these are healthy because they naturally selected themselves. And all of those who were not very healthy, died in the infancy. We don't know that.
These are the kinds of things we wish to handle next summer. All right. You're on Black Journal. Please ask your question. Yes. I'm 13 years old, and I was watching this. It sounds quite interesting. I'd like to know how they accept the middle team, the black brothers. And number two, how big is the tribe, the population? Thank you. This is a 13-year-old sister. She'd like to know how you were accepted as black brothers. And how large is the Jooka tribe? They are about 30,000 in all Serenam, Jookas and Seramakas. We were first not readily accepted. They are wary of anybody from the outside. And they have different degrees of difficulty, should I say, with their language. If you can understand Taki Taki, they'll drop to Deepitaki. And if you can understand Deepitaki, they'll drop to another level. And it was only after some time through our interpreter that we explained to them who we were and that there were other blacks in North America. And that they then slowly started to accept us. And we noticed that their handshake changed.
That's right. The handshake changed. Man, it was none of the handshake that we see here. It was a different kind of handshake, but it changed. When they got to know us very well. I think it's very interesting that a 13-year-old child would develop an interest in this. And that pleases us because we're hoping through this kind of discussion to develop that kind of interest. And especially black people, especially scholars that are looking at this program, we thought it was just so significant that black journal and new Tony Brown would introduce this topic to the American people and to the American black people. Because we've found from a small sample at Harvard that probably 95% of black America, 95% of our black people have never heard of these people. And they're beautiful and interesting history that relates so much to ours. I think one of the interesting things that the two of you were explaining to me was that they did see you as basically whites because of your cultural background. But once you explained that your ancestors or we Afro-Americans, our ancestors also were enslaved that they had an identity. I'd like to. That's when the handshake changed. That's when the handshake changed. I'd like to look at some more of this fantastic footage you brought back and get some more moving picture views of the jukas.
Thank you. Although they have been of their own volition. They have been away from the white man. They have not, however, refused the usage of some of his friends of utensils. That is in the treaty that was signed in 1761 that the government would supply them with certain utensils, including guns and gunpowder, and cloth, and some other types of metal, twice per year. So just because the towels are seen, that does not mean that they have given over to the Western culture. This is just a part of it. They are not romanticists. That's right. They still trade things like their wood carvings and their wood for things like an occasional shirt or whatever. Typically, they do not wear Western clothes. They wear mainly the loincloth. Many of the people just pose on the river banks just to watch people pass by. They take baths in the river. And again, when you get to villages, the children will usually come out and meet you first. The men and women are typically very shy about coming out to interact with
whomever is coming in their village. And we thought that little children were so interesting because they were a lot freer in their interaction with us and we got a chance to spend more time with them. I'm not too sure how you shy in the sense that we know it in America. Very reluctant and wary of newcomers. That's right. And especially people who come in with Western-type dress and this sort of thing. These children that you're looking at have really interesting sort of lives because many of them are selected at an early age to become lambas or people who have a special task in the society. The lambas, for example, can carry extremely long messages for long periods of time, many days and many, many miles. And they carry messages to other parts of the villages. They also carry the facial grimaces and other sorts of features that are important in the message. And they have beautiful communication models. The children are extremely bright. It's obvious to anyone who hasn't even been trained in psychology in the area. And we felt that the psychologists who are talking about deficiencies and black mentality need only visit this area to meet some of these people
to see how brilliant many of these children are. I think this may very well be Polquette. And each of the villages has a beautiful name and it's there where it's protected from any intrusion by the rapids. Anybody coming to those villages will have to pass the rapids. They often announce people coming by using the drums to indicate that they're coming through. Notice the dress of the women. They mainly wear togas. Whereas the men will typically wear simply loincloths and no togas. I was asked for one item while I was down there by the natives. They asked me for that dashiki, which was given to me by the head of police at Trinidad, Selvin. Lenselot be Selvin. I couldn't give it up. But that was the only thing they asked for when I was down there. You will never see a police force. They don't have such. Now here you see the woman combing David's hair with one of the comb she's made. But she later gave to David to bring back as a gift and he has that at home. They've solved out of the iron wood. They eat many fruits, fish, and as well as the cassava. And the diet is generally very healthy.
It's a very complete diet. We were looking at this type of thing. You see very little malnutrition or evidence of it. And even the early writers who went into study and saw these people sort of incidentally, they acknowledge the fact that there's little infant mortality. These people can truly handle and take care of the children. Paint, for instance, the painting, the artwork on the houses, shows, I understand, considerable amount of their West African heritage. Now their language is a combination of English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and about five African languages. So sometimes you will hear something that sounds very English. Right, in the city they call this talky-talky. But into the bush where we were, the section of people like the bone A tribes that we were dealing with, speak deepy-talky. And they say that's so deep as they refer to it that whites cannot understand it, which is their main reason. I do not know if you know what I'm talking about. Rather interesting also is the fact that they refer to us when they first saw,
some of them, farther than Stoeman Island, they mention, they call us Bachram, which is their term for white man. And this was told to us throughout interpreter, many of them, Omorin. Mainly the children were calling us that. Yes, mainly the children were calling us that. And he laughed in telling us that they had just referred to it as white. And I asked where they, where they blind. And he said, no, because he said they are not referring to your skin as such, but to your culture. And there is a word in this country in the South Carolina Islands, enjoyed it, the gullos use the same word, Bachram, B-U-C-K-R-A. And out west you'll hear the term, Bacharu, which is even similar to that. They said that we dressed like Bachram, and we had the cameras like Bachram. And some of them, indeed, a number of them, farther into the bush, had never heard of the U.S. Didn't seem to pride either. And they are a sort of farming and agrarian type. Agrarian type, they cut out places in the woods that you might see there
and are flying over those hacked out places. They are preparing to plant crops there. They can't last very long, David. You might remember, too, because the rainfall is so great at certain points that it washes away the humans and the soil. So they move from area to area. They also shoot fish with bow and arrow. They still do that. And collect the fish out of the rivers with their bows. Just as the native Kareeb and Arawak Indians who are around them tend to do. The bush people have long recognized that their welfare meant some interaction with the Western world, and some interaction, especially with the government of Zeranon. And they have always trained special members of their groups, of their children, to be people who could go in and sort of mingle among the white culture and find out what was being thought, what was developed. We were amazed at the stressing of the interlink. Not necessarily a spies, but just simply to be there to come back with information
about how the people in the government were thinking. And this is the kind of thing that we got from these people that they were constantly aware of their own survival and the needs of their survival. And constantly sending special individuals into interact. Well, I think one of the most significant things we can say about the people there in our trip is that these are people who came from Africa in the 1600s on slave ships just as we came from Africa. Of course, most of our people landed at Jamestown and there about, but these people landed in South America. And to us, as David and I have discussed it, these people represent what we call in science a control group. We've often wondered what would have happened, had blacks in this country, been able to run away from slavery, to run somewhere in the bush and fight it off. We know that there are many people who did want to do that, but here we have in South America a group who did. So there's no way for us to say now that there is no evidence as to what blacks would have done, had they been able to get off to some place by themselves and away from the slave masters.
This is what we call the control group, as I see it. And I think a wonderful people to look at in light of our historical perspective. Well, this represents the typical wood carving that you'll find among the juker people. And they have such a great sense of form and design. These objects represent great line and balance, subtlety of line. And even the most common utensil, every piece of utensil is carved to a beautiful work of art. This Afrocom is very typical of a lot of the pieces of art, the wood carving. A man's position in the community is enhanced by his ability to wood carve, so to speak. And it turns out that family tradition is often passed down. Certain families are better wood covers than others. And anybody who is capable of this is highly respected. Most of the men do the wood carving. And I think the elder that looks over the boy of age 8 who teaches him to do this and by 9 or 10 or 11 they've developed great proficiency in wood carving. Is art for decoration purpose? No, they combine everything that we have here.
It's functional as well as artistic. Yeah, they combine the aesthetic and the function. Like the Afrocom, it's decorated. That's right, yet you can actually pick your hair. That's true because many of the men present these gifts to women when they are wooing them. And they're just truly decorated. The decorative spirit is so great that everything is decorated to a very fine work of art. You're on black journal. Yes, I would like to know what the customs are there as far as relationships between the male and the female. Are they usually monogamous? And are there usually people that stand attached and don't form relationships and become married? Thank you very much. They are not monogamous. They are polygamous, about 28% of the jukers are polygamous. Now, at one time it was just the opposite. And that was, that is, there were many fewer women.
And the women had a great power and great choice because the men would usually flee from the plantation into the bush. And they would, out there they might have 10 men and just two women. And you see, this was when they were hiding out from the slave owners. That's right. And they would raid the plantations to get women again. And so we were equally impressed with the fact that women have clearly equal rights to men there. On the beseas are the village councils where the disputes are arbitrated. Women, especially older women, had equal say or equal power to the men or to the bush captains. Women are also physicians. Women are allowed to be doctors, except if they're married and have children. Otherwise, they are, they can be doctors and operate as a medicine people or medicine persons, so to speak. And all of the evidence for this is Dave says, obey a man or obey a woman. Obey a man, that's a word that is Nigerian. It is also Ghanaian. It is also jukka. That's another similarity in the oral tradition.
It means sort of medicine man or medicine priest. And we found too that regarding the women in medicine, they have a sacred medicine city. And I was very fascinated to find this. It's also documented earlier that they have a city called Dehome or village actually. And it's called the sacred medical village. And no white person is allowed to come into this village, because the god called Hini sort of hovers over the village to keep whites out. It feels, a person feels or a chieftain feels that they will bring in bad luck to this village, where most of their medical cases are brought. It's sort of like bringing a case to Boston to see a certain position. In America traditionally, in a play that the bad guy wears dark clothes, there is such a thing as, or black is used in a very negative connotation in the folklore. How is that handled in the folklore of the people black and white? It is quite different. The color for deep mourning among the jukkas is white. It is forbidden. It is wrong to shoot a panther, to slay a panther. He is considered a sacred animal because of his blackness. They have just the opposite in the color scheme and the thinking.
In other words, black has always been beautiful indeed. They were a small white cloth on their arms or on a necklace or something, to keep away the evil spirit. This is clearly documented too. We found it so fascinating called Bach Crue, which is also white. And it is amazing how they developed their patterns. And I think that they truly again represent a sort of opposite of much of the thinking of Afro-Americans in the North America and the United States. We can only have one question. That one wasn't there. I've been kind of interested in the fighting tendency. Is this basically a group that is known for vigorous warfare? What is the tradition of the jukka in that respect? Well, I have a long history of it. As I stated earlier, one group of Afro-Americans call the Koromanti. They still worship and go into very powerful dances about the Koromanti bush people, the spirit of Koromanti. They've always had a rebellious spirit. And they will tell you in a minute that they're not Bach Rishloth.
I'm not Bach Rishloth. You Bach Rishloth, they'll say. Because they mean that the towns people were slaves. They were free. And even the towns people today, I might add, clearly are showing signs of trying to hold these people up now as models. They've recognized what the significance of their earlier doings might very well be today in terms of the development of the Third World. In other words, the I understand the Suriname government is making a very vigorous effort to bring the jukas into the operation of the government. They are one of the most unique sites in the country of Suriname. And they are being displaced by some of the aluminum industry. Understand some 10,000 or so were displaced in the late 60s to build a huge dam, hydroelectric dam and lake. And persons interested in them should write the Suriname government about their welfare. Hello. I'd like to say hello to Dr. Counter first. My question is this. Charles Dawing wrote in his book on origin of the species through natural selection. That if you took a less civilized culture and you moved it in one direction or either direction a hundred miles from its origin or from its native area,
these people would become sterile, they would start reproducing and they would die out. Europeans used this theory in several areas in the South seas and these people are normal war. And this was part of the action behind the forest marches for Indians in this country. And you can see by moving the Indians around their population has dropped tremendously. Now, black people are always wondering what they were like in Africa before, you know, at this present day. This shows that we came from a very strong, highly civilized culture. We have been moved into just about all corners of the world and we have reproduced and come back very strong. And I think that this isolated group of people that you're studying here typifies this greatly. And I'd like to. I took my head to Dr. Counter and Dr. Wah and the other doctor. And thank you so much.
You know, I think that some of the interpretations and rationalizations of Darwin's work clearly, they clearly border on the pathological. I mean, people look for things to use to sort of destroy one ethnic group or one nationality. But it is obvious that these are our strong people who went into the bush without a similar language, who went into the bush knowing nothing as such of the flora. And they exploited the environment to the degree that they could take their medicines from some of the plants. They're food that could take their shelter and clothing. And I think this is brilliance. I mean, I saw evidence there of brilliance. And I felt so proud knowing that this was a part of my history. It brilliance in any way you look at it. It's certainly native intelligence. Clearly. It's a viable and it's growth. We're going to have time for one more question. Hello. Hello, good evening. Yes, please ask your question. I'd like to make a statement and that is that I'm really pleased with back the county's research and the end of gentlemen. And that your show is really a resource not only to the black community but to the white community,
because it offsets the balance both for both communities. And I wanted to know to what extent do you gentlemen, and going back and doing more research with other people? I hate to interrupt you, but our time is out. And I'll just answer very succinctly that Dr. Counter and Mr. Evans are planning to go back in the fall. And I'm sorry I had interrupt the question. The amazing jukes have preserved the concept that black has been beautiful for hundreds of years. And it exists today in the bush country of Suriname in South America. Those of us in search of our cultural roots might well look to our fellow Afro-Americans in Suriname, South America, as well as Africa. Thanks to brothers Al Counter and David Evans, we have rediscovered the original brother. From Boston, black journal has presented the original brother with guests, Dr. Allen Counter, professor of biology at Harvard University,
and David Evans, associate director of Harvard College admissions office. Our host and moderator has been Tony Brown. Thank you.
Black Journal
Episode Number
No. 407
The Original Brother
Producing Organization
WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
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Library of Congress (Washington, District of Columbia)
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Episode Description
A discussion about the Juka Tribe of Suriname, and a call-in session for viewers in Boston to ask the guests about their travels.
Series Description
Black Journal began as a monthly series produced for, about, and – to a large extent – by black Americans, which used the magazine format to report on relevant issues to black Americans. Starting with the October 5, 1971 broadcast, the show switched to a half-hour weekly format that focused on one issue per week, with a brief segment on black news called “Grapevine.” Beginning in 1973, the series changed back into a hour long show and experimented with various formats, including a call-in portion. From its initial broadcast on June 12, 1968 through November 7, 1972, Black Journal was produced under the National Educational Television name. Starting on November 14, 1972, the series was produced solely by WNET/13. Only the episodes produced under the NET name are included in the NET Collection. For the first part of Black Journal, episodes are numbered sequential spanning broadcast seasons. After the 1971-72 season, which ended with episode #68, the series started using season specific episode numbers, beginning with #301. The 1972-73 season spans #301 - 332, and then the 1973-74 season starts with #401. This new numbering pattern continues through the end of the series.
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Guest: Evans, David
Guest: Counter, Allen
Host: Brown, Tony
Producing Organization: WNET (Television station : New York, N.Y.)
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Library of Congress
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Format: 2 inch videotape
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Chicago: “Black Journal; No. 407; The Original Brother,” 1974, Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
MLA: “Black Journal; No. 407; The Original Brother.” 1974. Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Black Journal; No. 407; The Original Brother. Boston, MA: Library of Congress, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from