chapter  14
23 Pages

One Finger Does Not Drink Okra Soup: Afro-Surinamese Women and Critical Agency

The odo. or proverb, quoted in the title of this essay is used by Creole women in Suriname on particular occasions and expresses a specific, situated worldview.1 Creole working-class culture, like other cultures in the black diaspora, is an oral culture, replete with proverbs, verbal arts, storytelling, riddles, and songs. Odo can be viewed as an Afro-Surinamese example of "black thought pictures," a concept Zora Neale Hurston vividly evoked in her brilliant novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937).2 The small vignettes odo bring to life, encapsulate orally transmitted wisdom that expresses a particular, subordinated world outlook while also potentially serving as a guideline for action. As the descendants of slaves, working-class Creole women have been the vigilant treasure keepers of the cultural heritage forged in the crucible of this New World, Caribbean society.