Surinamese family shows Wilmington the powerful potential of Cultural Understanding through Afibadu

Surinamese family shows Wilmington the powerful potential of Cultural Understanding through Afibadu

From left to right, Latifah Jozefzoon, Afiba Maapoe, and Dygo Jozefzoon

Is world peace just a utopic ideal, or a realistic possibility? The founders of a new Wilmington-based organization named Afibadu, Afiba Maapoe, and her children, Latifah Jozefzoon and Dygo Jozefzoon, believe that cultural healing and understanding is a stepping-stone towards harmony in our world. Their efforts show peace on Earth is a potential reality.

When asked about the passion that prompted her to start Afibadu, Afiba Maapoe responded that she is, “Concerned about the next generation” and their future. She mourns that, “We’ve walked away from ourselves for hundreds of years, and we’re lost.”  She explained that her concerns are sourced from her observations that people are stuck in a cycle of anger, disappointment, and negativity due to a departure from the cultural practices that contribute to identity formation. She noted that, “Even if we were to change to find ourselves, we wouldn’t know where to start.”

Her daughter, Latifah Jozefzoon, agrees. She, “Is passionate about human beings, and wants to bring that out through poetry and film.”

Afiba Maapoe and her family hail from the beautiful country of Suriname, whose rich cultural traditions date back hundreds of years. According to Latifah, Afiba is the name of her mother’s father’s mother, or in other words, her great-grandmother. The elder Afiba was a leader in the community in which her granddaughter, Afiba Maapoe, grew up. Grandmother Afiba possessed knowledge of the spiritual and practical traditions of the culture, called Busumba. She maintained and oversaw the communal gathering place, and passed along her heritage by teaching the next generation the traditions of the culture.


Figure 2: The Birthplace of Afiba Maapoe

Afiba Maapoe’s father became the next leader within the community, and soon, the role of leader was passed to Ms. Maapoe herself. She is the vice-president of Afibadu. Latifah, who is 25 years old and the secretary of Afibadu, now has the responsibility of sharing these precious cultural traditions to the next generation, and she would like to do that here, in Delaware. Her brother, Dygo, who is president of the organization at 23 years old, shares in his sister’s responsibility of spreading the traditions they have learned, and by doing so, motivating others to find themselves through cultural identity too.

The family of 3 came to United States from the Netherlands in 2012. The mother, daughter, and son have been on what they call, “the journey of Afibadu and Busumba” since then.

Latifah explained that Busumba is the natural way of life, and the origin of human beings.  The Busumba way of life emphasizes interaction with nature as essential to human development and existence. The family has written about the Busumba in a 3 part book series.  Afiba Maapoe added that it is a way of life that has been passed down for thousands of years, and will help people find their way back to their essential selves. Afibadu, is derived from the name of an elder in the family named, “Afiba,” and the word “du,” which means, “doing something,” and “moving forward.” Afibadu is the call to action to share Busumba practices with others. She asserts that she is, “a true believer in Busumba and Afibadu.”

The mission of Afibadu is to manifest knowledge of Busumba to all people, across ethnicities. They want to remind people of their cultural heritage. Afiba Maapoe explains that, “When you know who you are you are freer in yourself.” Latifah adds that knowledge of self helps people to, “Regain their self-esteem.” Dygo adds that the goal of Afibadu is to “show people… respect, love and life the way it is supposed to be, by educating them with cultural heritage.”  The vision is to create more solidarity across ethnic and cultural divides. The family explains that when people know their past, they will know their future, and be less bothered by differences that may separate them.

Figure 3: Afibadu Organization Logo

Afibadu will manifest this idea, Busumba, through an initiative called the International Cultural Heritage Project. This project entails a series of seminars, workshops, and indoor and outdoor activities. In general, Afibadu plans to host a series of enriching programs, which will include activities such as: counseling, nature walks, herbal healing, meditation, and dream and future interpretation. These activities will help participants learn about themselves through nature, and each other.


Figure 4 Women’s Empowerment Flyer

Dygo says that they create community programs and projects through Afibadu to give people a path to “self-reflection and confidence, which would motivate them to carry on the movement in a positive way.” The movement will progress with the participation of people interested in learning about the ancient cultural heritage of ethnic communities across the world. Afibadu seeks to show the community that by understanding who we were, we will be able to understand who we are, and create a vision of who we will be.


Figure 5: Seminars and classes

Ms. Maapoe, Dygo, and Afida, are honored to be doing this work in Wilmington, and look forward to connecting and collaborating with organizations throughout Delaware. They welcome anyone who is interested in learning about cultures or sharing their specialized knowledge about a particular culture. They are looking for people that are specifically interested in learning and teaching Busumba.  In addition, they need editors, publishers, to help them publish and launch the book series.

Afibadu would be highly appreciative of contributions of resources such as physical space for events, partnerships, volunteers, and money to support them in fulfilling their mission. Also, contributions in the form of cultural artifacts such as souvenirs, instruments, paintings, carvings, and fabrics, are welcome. Finally, Afiba Maapoe and her family are still learning about Delaware, and would be honored by invitations to events that would help them help them learn about the various cultural groups who live here.

Afibadu has an honorable and truly humanitarian vision which is sure to grow. They are hosting a series of cultural seminars this May! If anyone is interested in contacting them to learn more, they can be found through various social media:

Facebook afibadu:

Facebook busumba:

Instagram: @afibadu



Figure 6: Seminar Flyer

Surinamese family shows Wilmington the powerful potential of cultural Understanding through Afibadu

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