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Johan Ferrier
Johan Ferrier 1975.jpg
Johan Ferrier in 1975
1st President of Suriname
In office
25 November 1975 – 13 August 1980
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Hendrick Chin A Sen
Governor of Suriname
In office
15 March 1968 – 25 November 1975
Preceded by Henry Lucien de Vries
Succeeded by Position abolished
Prime Minister of Suriname
In office
16 April 1955 – 16 July 1958
Preceded by Archibald Currie
Succeeded by Severinus Desiré Emanuels
Personal details
Johan Henri Eliza Ferrier

(1910-05-12)12 May 1910
Paramaribo, Suriname
Died 4 January 2010(2010-01-04) (aged 99)
Oegstgeest, Netherlands
Nationality Surinamese
Political party National Party of Suriname
Alma mater University of Amsterdam (PhD)
Occupation Politician

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

Mevrouw Cummings en Johan Ferrier op het terras van het Palacehotel aan het Gouv, Bestanddeelnr 252-2212
Mrs Cummings and Johan Ferrier

Ferrier was born in 1910 in Suriname's largest city and its 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.

He was co-founded 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".


Aankomst dr. J. H. E. Ferrier , gouverneur van Suriname Schiphol. Ferrier met ec, Bestanddeelnr 921-1422
Dr. J. H. E. Ferrier, governor of Suriname Schiphol. Ferrier with his wife

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.

After politics

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".


De gouverneur van Suriname Johan Ferrier, Bestanddeelnr 927-8394
The Governor of Suriname Johan Ferrier
Staatsbezoek van de Surinaamse president Johan Ferrier Koningin Juliana en pres, Bestanddeelnr 929-3461
State visit by the Surinamese president Johan Ferrier; Queen Juliana and President Ferrier

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

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. 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 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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