maandag 30 maart 2015

A book worm's view on Sophie Redmond - vervolg

Dit artikel is het vervolg van A book worm's view on Sophie Redmond.

Not only was Sophie Redmond very committed to her task as a medical doctor and an advocate for women, she also emphasized the need for appreciating our own Surinamese culture. She appeared to be very progressive for that time and applied a holistic approach in her profession. She provided medical treatment to her patients and also gave advice and assisted in finding solutions when they approached her with marital and financial problems. This advice was first limited to her consultations at her clinic, but was later expanded to AVROS[1] radio talks in Sranan[2] entitled “Datra, mi wan aksi joe wan sani”. [3] Known as “Datra foe potisma”[4], she provided free medical treatment to many sick and poor people. She developed an interest in traditional healing and herbal medicine and emphasized the need for further research in this area. Proud as she was of her roots and culture, she experimented with preserving local fruits and got very creative during war time in finding local alternatives for import food products. She organized koto shows[5] to rekindle the public’s appreciation for this traditional dress.

Through her theater plays, Sophie Redmond entertained as well as educated her audience, an approach we now call with a fancy word ‘edutainment’. In the publication “Sophie Redmond – Toneel”, Thea Doelwijt introduced four of Sophie Redmond’s plays. Through “Grontapoe na asi tere”[6] Sophie Redmond raised awareness on the newly established Blood Transfusion Service in Suriname. “Misi Jana e go na stembus” (Miss Jana casts her vote) was inspired by the universal suffrage, right for both men and women to vote, when this was introduced in 1948 in Suriname. Very light and humouristic is the play “A sowtoe”[7] which tells what happens when people get fed up with sluggards and good-for-nothing characters. Her play “Jezus na watra foe libi”[8] highlights the life and death of Jesus and reflects her Moravian faith. Sophie Redmond’s theater plays were written and presented in Dutch and Sranan. 

Sophie Redmond, a true Surinamese woman, very committed to contributing to the well-being of her people and country, also entered the political arena. Going against traditional views and structures she soon encountered the wrath of political giants and as a result got so disgusted by all that was politics. Sophie Redmond’s life was cut too short, unfortunately. She was 48 years when she passed away in 1955.

More information about Sophie Redmond can be found in “De inspiratie van Sophie Redmond”[1] written  by Thea Doelwijt and Marijke van Geest at

When Sharda’s ‘timid’ request came in by e-mail last week, my response was that I would make an effort. It is “March of Women” and it is Sharda! Little did I know how far back in time I had to go and how many miles I had to travel for this assignment.  No regret at all though, since I did enjoy every second and mile. My copy of “Sophie Redmond – Toneel” was not in my library in Georgetown as I initially thought. I traveled over the weekend to Suriname and had to dive into a dusty storage room filled with old furniture, garden tools and suitcases to find my desired ‘wear and tear’ but still readable item amidst numerous old story and study books. I decided to write this contribution in English, not because it takes me a bit more time now to write in Dutch, but to be able to share this story about our own Sophie Redmond with the English speaking Caribbean. Sophie Redmond her works might not yet be accessible for a non-Dutch and non-Surinamese speaking audience, but I do hope that at some point in time we can overcome this barrier, either through English translations or persons in the English speaking Caribbean having benefitted from a course in Dutch and Sranan, who knows?

[1] English: The inspiration of Sophie Redmond

[1] Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep Suriname. In English: General Association of Radio Broadcasting Suriname
[2] Lingua franca (contact language) from Suriname
[3] English: Doctor, can I ask you something?
[4] English: Doctor for the poor
[5] Koto is Sranan for dress. The koto is a traditional dress from Suriname developed during slavery. A kotomisie is a 
   woman dressed in a Surinamese koto.
[6] English: The world is like the tail of a horse. One time it swings up, then it goes down. Attitudes can change.
[7] English: It’s salty!
[8] English: Jesus is the living water

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