marry a white man, her wealth would end
up with white people.
She won. But by the time the good
news arrived, her groom had passed
away. However, she soon found another.
In the archives of that time, no one really
knew how she became so rich. Writers
assumed she had been a slave woman
who belonged to a white man and was
his mistress, and when he died, he left
her his money. It was so stated.
You know, one writes this, and the
following writers copy it. When I was
young, I was intrigued by this woman.
I wanted to find out how Elizabeth
became so rich and why she was so eager
to marry a white man. I had lived in
Europe before and promised myself, if I
got the chance, I would research this.
Fate was on my side. My husband
became an ambassador, and we were
sent to Belgium. Brussels is very close
to the [Dutch] National Archives in The
Hague, so I went there and researched.
There was so much information I started
a novel about her, then decided to first
make an accurate document about every-
thing I found.
I wanted scientific recognition, so I
sent my document to the University of
Utrecht. The university was happy they
finally had insights into the society of
Suriname of that time and published it.
In the novel I was able to place her
quite well in the society of her time. I
know 18th-century Suriname better than
that of today. I stated the truth with
facts. She was 100 percent Negro,
born free in Suriname, and above
all an excellent
In those days
they made quite
a thing about all
shades of color. In
Suriname you were
black or Negro
only if you were
100 percent Afri-
can. Every other
shade had a name.
is black. Not in
those days. Since
marry whites, it
meant that only
100 percent Afri-
cans couldn’t marry
whites. If you had some white blood,
you could marry.
From the beginning, white men had
children with black women. There were
more white men than white women. The
ratio was 20 to one. The women were
slaves and the children had the status
of the mother, thus slaves. At times they
were the father’s own slaves. Some white
men were good fathers. Some freed the
mother before the child was born, and
then the child was free.
Born free, you had more rights.
Sometimes the children inherited from
the father. Those children were mulat-
tos. A black and a mulatto produced a
A karboeger and a mulatto
. A mulatto and
a white produced a
. A mes-
ties and a white produced a
casties and a white produced a
and that child was considered
white. And so on.
By the time of emancipation
in 1863, 80 percent of the free
people were colored. In Suri-
name the mixture between
black and white came on
very quickly. 300,000 slaves
to the United
States. When we
the number of
slaves in the
grown to almost
four million, but
in Suriname it had
dwindled down to
The English had
“coloreds” in Jamaica,
Guyana and Trinidad
from British-ruled India.
The Dutch made an agreement
with the Brits to bring Indians to work on
the plantations. The British had rules for
the treatment of these people. They were
given a five-year contract and then a piece