bigi bon

What is Christmas without a Bigi Bon?



On the right bank of the mighty Suriname river, on a 125 acre plot of land

There survives a lone Big Tree

It marks the outer border of Bigi Bon, Grote Boom in Dutch, Big Tree in English

Bigi Bon was the plantation my ancestors were enslaved on in Suriname

Ironically the official name of this slave camp full of people who had no freedom, was La Liberté, The Freedom.

I found my great great-great grandmother hidden deep in the archives of this place

I also found her children and her grand children

Their friends

Their relatives

Their neighbors

All enslaved Africans

People with no autonomy, stripped off their past, their future uncertain

But with only their pride and their resilience to cling to

They did something amazing

My great-great grandmother figured out that she herself could be a Bigi Bon

That she could stand proud and rise victorious over centuries of efforts to quell the spirit of her people

As we dobigi bon property

She purchased the plantation

And turned this place that spelled marginalization for her ancestors

Into an investment for herself and for the generations that would follow after her

She planted the Big Tree

And handed it down to her children

My grandfather raised his family here

With his wife, my grandmother, the grandchild of the unbending Granman Broos, king of the Baka Busi suma who lived upriver at Rorac

King Broos was a Big Tree in his own right

I honored him in Ghana this year

But that’s another story for another day

My mom, her sisters and brothers were born at Bigi Bon

They were raised In the shade of the Big Tree

Bigi Bon is still in our possession

Once there were two Big Trees that marked its border on the banks of the mighty Sranan River

One survived

Imagine what all it has been witness to …

bigi bon logo

 I named our foundation Bigi Bon

In honor of the ancestors

The Big Trees

They watch over us all

Just like every Big Tree provides shade, food, protection and housing to other beings that it towers over

And just like the current generation should provide protection and care and guidance to the next generation

 That is the Bigi Bon mission

buncha words to express my gratitude to you

For your support

Your counsel

Your contribution

Your participation

Your involvement

Your understanding

Your attachment

Your involvement in Weekend College

Your addition to AFRO Magazine

Your workshops at OZOSchool

Your love

Or something else some other time

Either way

You helped make the mark

You helped clear the path

You gave shade

You're a Bigi Bon

We’re all Big Trees

We zijn allemaal Grote Bomen

Unu ala mala na Bigi Bon


A buncha words to say “HAPPY HOLIDAYS”

Stay the Big Tree you are

Because what is Christmas without?


Marvin Hokstam


Marvin (HOX) Hokstam journalist, schrijver, educator, habituele dingen-op-hun-kop gooier en uitgever van AFRO Magazine.