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Johan Henri Eliza Ferrier
(12 May 1910 – 4 January 2010)
Johan Henri Eliza Ferrier

Johan Henri Eliza Ferrier (12 May 1910 – 4 January 2010) was a Surinamese politician who served as the 1st President of Suriname from 25 November 1975 until 13 August 1980. He was that country's last governor before independence, from 1968 to 1975, and first president after it gained independence from the Netherlands. He was deposed in a military coup on 13 August 1980.

He was named the twentieth century's most important politician in Suriname in 1999.

Early life and education

Ferrier was born in 1910 at Suriname's largest city and its capital, Paramaribo. A teacher by trade outside political life, he assisted in the establishment of the country's National Party in 1946, at a time when it was a colony of the Dutch


Ferrier was co-founder of the Boy Scouts van Suriname and its first Chief Scout. At age 16 he was a teacher in the district Saramacca and founded his first Scout Group. This group still exists and now bears the name "De Johan Ferrier groep, de groep 2 Oranje Dassers".

Ferrier was a member of the National Council until 1948. He then went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to learn education theory. When he went back to Suriname, which had by then become an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, he continued to study and to have a career in education. He served as both prime minister and interior minister for a three-year period from 1955 until 1958. He also spent time as Suriname's head of education. From 1968 until 1975 he retained the post of governor. At this stage Suriname was made independent.Ferrier was selected as President of the country. Dési Bouterse's 1980 coup d'état prompted Ferrier to resign within six months.

Ferrier then accompanied his relations to live in the Netherlands. He lived with them in Oegstgeest. His daughter, Kathleen Ferrier, is a former member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands for the Christian Democratic Appeal. In 2005, Ferrier's memoirs Last Governor, First President: The Century of Johan Ferrier, Surinamese were published. The Dutch Queen gave him a knighthood. An obituary in national morning daily De Volkskrant said he had claimed: "Even in the darkest days, I kept my optimism".

Death and legacy

Ferrier died from heart failure while sleeping in his Dutch home at the age of 99, four months short of his 100th birthday. His body was found early morning on 4 January 2010.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands paid tribute. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said Ferrier was "an authoritative and wise statesman". Politician and diplomat Jan Pronk paid tribute to his work at uniting divisions.

Ferrier was buried on 11 January 2010, in the Dutch town of Oegstgeest, where he had been living since 1980.

On 12 May 2010, the day Johan Ferrier would have celebrated his 100th birthday, the Johan Ferrier Fund was officially launched. The Fund strives to follow in his footsteps in supporting Surinamese projects with educational and cultural goals. The Johan Ferrier Fund is an initiative of his daughter Joan Ferrier who first presented the fund in the presence of her father in September 2009.

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Johan Ferrier
Occupation Politician
Birth Date 12 May 1910
Place of Birth Paramaribo, Suriname
Birth Death 4 January 2010 (aged 99)
Place of Death Oegstgeest, Netherlands
Notable Accomplishments
President of Suriname: 25 November 1975 – 13 August 1980
Presidents of Suriname

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