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Henri Frans de Ziel

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Trefossa, pen name of Henri Frans de Ziel (January 15, 1916 – February 3, 1975), was a neoromantic writer in Dutch and Sranan Tongo from Suriname. He is best known for the Sranan Tongo stanzas of Suriname's National Anthem.

BornHenri Frans de Ziel
(1916-01-15)15 January 1916
Paramaribo, Suriname
Died3 February 1975(1975-02-03) (aged 59)
Haarlem, Netherlands

He was an educator and lived in the Netherlands from 1953 to 1956. Upon his return to Suriname he was part of the editorial staff of the magazines Tongoni (1958-1959) and Soela (1962-1964). He also served briefly as the director-librarian of Suriname's Cultural Centre (Cultureel Centrum Suriname (CCS)). He subsequently returned to the Netherlands to work on the publication of Johannes King's memoirs.[citation needed]

Trefossa wrote primarily about the beauty of his native country, Suriname, especially as a source of peace to the restless mind. He influenced many writers in Suriname, including Corly Verlooghen, Eugène Rellum, Johanna Schouten-Elsenhout and Michaël Slory, but the depth and subtlety of his verse remain almost unique.

On November 21, 2005, a monument was dedicated in his honor on the Sophie Redmondstraat in Paramaribo. His ashes and the ashes of his wife, Hulda Walser, were also placed at the monument.


  • Michiel van Kempen: Een geschiedenis van de Surinaamse literatuur. De Geus, Breda 2003, ISBN 90-445-0277-8.

External linksEdit

The poem by Trefossa, referenced in the above link, is translated from Sranan into English below:

Gronmama Earthmother
Mi a no mi

solanga mi brudu
fu yu a n'e trubu
na ini den dusun titei fu mi

I am not myself

until my blood
is infused with you
in all of my veins

Mi a no mi

solang mi lutu
n'e saka, n'e sutu
mi gronmama

I am not myself

until my roots
sink down, shoot
into you, my earthmother

Mi a no mi

solang m'no krari
fu kibri, fu tyari
yu gersi na ini mi dyodyo.

I am not myself

until I manage
to keep, to carry
your image in my soul

Mi a no mi

solanga y' n'e bari
f' prisir' ofu pen
na ini mi sten.

I am not myself

until you cry out
with pleasure, or pain
in my voice