KRALENDIJK- An initiative of fisherman Doei Diaz and his wife Chana, over the past twenty years it has grown into one of the largest cultural events on the island: The ‘Simadan na honor Chana i Doei Diaz’.
Although Diaz was originally a fisherman, he also loved the countryside and had his own Kunuku from an early age, where he kept animals, but also grew the corn common on Bonaire, maishi chikí (Sorghum Vulgare, also called Great Millet in English).
“The tradition of the Simadan started on that kunuku, where after the harvest, the Simadan was danced,” says Elvis Martinus, one of Doei’s sons. “Later he also brought the Simadan to his house in Playa Pariba. Over the years, the idea came about to expand the Simadan with a parade, with the local harvest music and with people in traditional clothing.”
In the early years of the Simadan, they started at the Rogargo building, which at that time was still located at the beginning of the J.A. Abraham Boulevard, right next to the current building of the Public Prosecutor’s office. From there, they danced to the Diaz family home. Later the route was extended, to the stadium and a few years later even to the parking lot of the Don Andres on the Kaya Industria.
Over the years, the Simadan of Chana and Doei received increasing interest from various folkloric groups from Curaçao, interested in participation in the event, locally known as ‘Ban wapa ku Chana, ban wapa ku Doei’ (Let’s dance the Simadan Chana, let’s dance the Simadan with Doei).
The parade and dancing was traditionally organized on Labour Day, on May 1, even at a time when the Dia di Rincon was not yet as popular and grand as it is now. The fact that May 1 falls directly after the dia di Rincon on April 30th is a happy coincidence. Many groups from Aruba and Curaçao in this way can experience both events in one visit to the island.
Doei Diaz passed away in 2019, but the festival is still very much alive. Although Chana is now of advanced age, she is still present at every festival, including this year.