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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.

Today everybody

is black. Not in

those days. Since

blacks couldn’t

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

produced a


. A mulatto and

a white produced a


. A mes-

ties and a white produced a


. 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

were brought

to Suriname—

the same

number that

was brought

to the United

States. When we

got emancipation,

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