port of harlem magazine
Khismet Wearable Art, Millee Spears
Sophie Redmond
Doctor and Keeper of the Culture (1907-1955) Suriname

Nov 16 – Nov 29, 2023
Praising the Past

sophai redomond

The Honoree

Sophie Redmond was a doctor with her own practice in Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname. She often wore a koto, the African-Surinamese traditional dress. Her work was mostly in Sranantongo, an English-based Creole language.

Many called her datra fu pôtisma (doctor of the poor). She also gave advice on marriage, family, and financial issues. During her weekly radio show, “Datra, mi wan aksi wan sani” (Doctor, I have a question), she discussed health, hygiene, the household, and current social issues. She acted in and wrote plays, often using them to educate the audience on topics ranging from elections to blood transfusions. There is a street named for her in Paramaribo as well as a lecture series in Amsterdam.


After the abolition of slavery in 1863, Chinese were contracted to work the plantations, followed by Indians, and Javanese. Consequently, the Surinamese population has a very diverse composition with about 27.4% people identifying as Hindus, 17.7% Creoles, 14.7% Maroons, 14.6% Javanese, 12.5% Mixed Race., 6.5% Other groups, and 6.6% no data. In 1954 Suriname was recognized by the Netherlands as an overseas territory and later into the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On November 25, 1975, Suriname became an independent republic: Republic of Suriname.

In 1854, the U.S. Congress drew up the Ostend Manifesto, which essentially was going to force Spain to sell Cuba to the U.S. or face military invasion. If it had not been for the internal conflicts in the US that demanded balance between free and slave states, the US probably would have found a way to purchase or annex Cuba and make it a state.


The Artist's Creative Explanation

“The picture of her that I used to create this image was a black and white newspaper clipping. However, I sought out to capture her tenacity and compassion to serve her community with colorful acrylic paints. She often wore a koto, the often colorful African-Surinamese traditional dress worn with a head covering called an angisa. I chose some of my favorite colors for her attire.” -

- karen jenkins

Artist Karen L. Jenkins

About "From These Shores"

From These Shores celebrates the accomplishments of 18 known and lesser-known Africans in the diaspora across time and geography. The 12 panels hang at the Juffureh Slavery Museum, The Gambia and online. Timbooktoo Bookstore in New Bakau, The Gambia and Mansa Musa Restaurant in Takoma Park, MD USA each display one of the panels.

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