From Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories

From Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories

Many peoples and cultures around the world have not been as violently assimilated as the Caribbean. Slavery and colonialism have created a multi-colored melting pot of Caribbean society. From the travel series From Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories, Latin American journalist Nina Jurna explores how history affects the present in seven countries and how this is leading to a new Caribbean culture. From Friday 9th June, the show will air weekly (7 episodes long) at 8.30pm on VPRO on NPO2.

From Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories

Arrival in New York (USA) on a long journey from Bahia (Brazil) to Brooklyn. Nina Jurna* Followed by Brazil, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Curacao, Dominican Republic and Haiti and Jamaica finally ending in the rich Caribbean culture in America.

We’ve already seen South America in shows like Upside Down from the Americas and Race Across the World.

Nina Jurna: Stories from the Caribbean

With growing wonder but recognition, Nina Zurna, who has partly Surinamese roots, listens to the unknown or hidden stories of residents from continents like Europe, Asia and Africa brought together through slavery, colonialism and indentured labour. Nina Zurna also traces indigenous peoples and explores their status in the present-day Caribbean region. She comes to the former plantations where Europe enriched itself through extreme exploitation, and she learns about resistance against oppression.

Culture in the Caribbean

Population mixing has a major impact on the self-image of demographic and cultural life in the Caribbean and beyond today. For example, the Indian Hindu festival of lights takes on a Caribbean meaning. Caribbean culture is a rich blend of various African, tribal, Asian and European customs, among others. You can find diversity everywhere: religion, skin color, music and foods. All the revelations of a shocking and interesting history lead to a fascinating present. As the series develops, Nina increasingly enjoys traveling across the Caribbean as an investigation into her own roots.

Nina Jurna

Nina Jurna* (1969) Dutch correspondent for NRC and NOS in Latin America. He has lived in Brazil since 2011 and was previously based in Suriname, where he lived for over ten years. Nina recently created the podcast Latin Impact for VPRO Free Sounds, in which she searches for the most penetrating songs from South America. Nina was also a guest at VPRO Zomergasten in 2019.

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From Bahia to Brooklyn, I look at Caribbean stories

A seven-part series from Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories is produced by Memphis Features in association with VPRO. Director: Martijn Blekendaal. From Bahia to Brooklyn, Caribbean Stories consists of seven episodes and can be seen on VPRO on NPO 2 from Friday 9 June at 8.30pm. Watch Caribbean stories from Bahia to Brooklyn via NPO Start and NPO Plus. If you want to watch from abroad, get one VPN connection, you put in the Netherlands and then go to the NPO startup. There you can already watch all the episodes (ahead).

More on Nina Zurna’s Caribbean Stories from Bahia to Brooklyn episodes


Brazil is a rigid class society in which privilege and high positions are mainly filled by the white Brazilian upper class. At the bottom of the social ladder are predominantly black Brazilians. In Rio, the past of slavery is literally hidden. But what about Salvador, the capital of the predominantly black state of Bahia? Nina Zurna moved to Brazil in 2011 on the assumption that she would find the perfect mixed society there: a melting pot of colors and cultures. It soon turned out to be an illusion.


Some of the most marginalized population groups in Suriname are the Kalina and Logono, the original inhabitants of what is now Suriname. Nina Zurna discovered that she descended through her biological mother from both Logono and Maroons, a population group that is being lost in present-day Suriname. To what extent and in what way does Suriname’s colonial past play a role in this? That question becomes concrete and urgent when Nina and her family head inland in search of a former sugar cane plantation the family inherited from a distant ancestor.

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You saw Suriname in Alles is Famiri.


The tour goes from mainland South America to the authentic Caribbean island of Trinidad. Trinidad is located on the coast of Venezuela. The former British colony has two main population groups: the descendants of enslaved people from Africa and the descendants of indentured laborers from India. In Trinidad, does it matter where your roots lie, or are all differences settled into one colorful melting pot?


Nina Zurna looks at how young generations in the Netherlands Antilles in particular use Papiamentu to show their own identity, self-awareness and pride. For example, Nina participates in the finals of the Arte de Palabra, a battle for the best presentation in Papiamento among high school students from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. And he meets the poet and activist Kibi Basilio, who has been trying for years to bring historical awareness to Curaçao and the Netherlands. Slavery is not only a story of inhuman suffering and victimization, but also a story of strength, freedom and resistance.

About Curacao You’ve Seen Before: Homerun Curacao and Rao Curacao.

Dominican Republic

Columbus once set foot in the capital city of Santo Domingo, and so began the European domination of the Caribbean and the Americas. Nina Jurna, it’s amazing that Columbus is still a tourist attraction here. The colonial struggle divided the island into French-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic. Nina interrogates at the border why the differences in 2023 lead to so much tension. She immerses herself in merengue, a country style of music, and wonders how African merengue is. She witnesses the tenacity of young Haitians forced to flee to the Dominican Republic.


Nina Zurna travels to Jamaica in search of the legacy of Bob Marley’s Redemption song. Has Jamaica been freed from ‘mental slavery’? As part of the British Commonwealth, the country is still attached to the former colony, but for how long? Why do Rastafarians want to leave Jamaica? In Trenchtown, Kingston, Nina sees a place where the disparity between rich and poor is stark. Bob Marleys* Music career began. In Jamaica, people who left the plantations are also called maroons, but here they are more respectable. Their leader, Gloria Sims, aka Mamma G., is a national hero.

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Brooklyn, New York

New York has the largest Caribbean community outside of the Caribbean, with over 1 million people. What does it do to your identity? How do people in such a metropolis perceive the Caribbean? If there isn’t an ocean between those cultures, will a new one emerge, a connecting one? New York is steeped in Caribbean influences and derives part of its charm from it. Nina experiences it almost like island hopping: every time she enters, she ends up on a different Caribbean island.

* Please note: We work with affiliate links in our articles, where we refer you to partners that we think may be of interest to you or that are relevant to this article.

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June 16, 2023 /


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