The Saramakas of Surinam and French Guinea are one of many peoples in the Americas descended from rebel slave communities. The Saramakas live profoundly in history, even if the past relevant to their sense of identity is 'temporally restricted.' Into the involutions, the feints and meanders of the story, are woven the shadows of trauma, and to begin the task of decolonising governance is to interpret the substance of what is deliberately omitted. Colonising governance, in contrast, ignores the substance in favour of the sign. The supposed unity of the nation state, whether colonial or postcolonial, depends on the erasure of local and regional self-organising social practices to produce an absolute fragmentation of non- or even anti-colonial relationships. Overcoming the false distinction humanists have made between natural history and human history, we need 'a general history of life.'.