Johan Ferrier

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Johan Ferrier
Ferrier in Suriname 1975 (cropped).jpg
Johan Ferrier in 1975
1st President of Suriname
In office
25 November 1975 – 13 August 1980
Prime MinisterHenck Arron
Henk Chin A Sen
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byHenk Chin A Sen
Governor-General of Suriname
In office
15 March 1968 – 25 November 1975
Prime MinisterHenck Arron
Preceded byHenry Lucien de Vries
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Prime Minister of Suriname
In office
16 April 1955 – 16 July 1958
Governor GeneralJan Klaasesz
Jan van Tilburg
Preceded byArchibald Currie
Succeeded bySeverinus Desiré Emanuels
Personal details
Johan Henri Eliza Ferrier

(1910-05-12)12 May 1910
Paramaribo, Suriname
Died4 January 2010(2010-01-04) (aged 99)
Oegstgeest, Netherlands
Political partyNational Party of Suriname
Spouse(s)Eugenie Lionarons (died 1959)
Edmé Ferrier-Vas (died 1997)
ChildrenCynthia McLeod, Joan Ferrier and Kathleen Ferrier.
Alma materUniversity of Amsterdam (Dr.)
Johan Ferrier (1955)

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

Early life

Ferrier was born in 1910 in Suriname's largest city and capital, Paramaribo. He trained as a teacher. In 1946 he assisted in the establishment of the country's National Party, while Suriname was a colony of the Netherlands.


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 of 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".


In 1946, Ferrier was one of the founding members of the National Party of Suriname. Ferrier was a member of the National Council from 1946 until 1948. He then went to Amsterdam in the Netherlands to learn education theory. In 1950, he received his doctorate. 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. On 25 November 1975, Suriname was made independent, and Ferrier was sworn in as the first president of the country. Dési Bouterse's 1980 coup d'état prompted Ferrier to resign within six months.

Prime Minister Henk Chin A Sen succeeded Ferrier as president. Ferrier was made a Grand Cordon in the Honorary Order of the Yellow Star by Chin A Sen on 3 September 1980. His wife was also made a Grand Officer in the Honorary Order of the Palm.

Later life

Ferrier then accompanied his relatives to live in the Netherlands. He lived with them in Oegstgeest. Ferrier used to tell stories about the spider Anansi on Dutch children's television. In 1986, Het Grote Anansi Boek, a picture book was released with illustrations by Noni Lichtveld. The original release was monochrome. In 2010, it was re-released in colour.

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 the national morning daily De Volkskrant said he had claimed: "Even in the darkest days, I kept my optimism".


Ferrier died from heart failure while sleeping at home in Oegstgeest at the age of 99, four months before his 100th birthday. His body was found in the 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.

Johan Ferrier (2009)

Ferrier was buried on 11 January 2010, in the Dutch town of Oegstgeest, where he had been living since 1980. From 16 April 2009, when former Sudan President Abdel Halim Muhammad died, until his own death, Ferrier was the world's oldest living former head of state.

Johan Ferrier Fund

On 12 May 2010, the day 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.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Office established
President of Suriname
Succeeded by
Preceded by Oldest living state leader
16 April 2009 – 4 January 2010
Succeeded by