From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty

Portrait of Abajomie, discovered in Anahuac in 1886
Joost Ruysbrack

Doeckoe, Dutch Tussenland
Died18 April 1853
Elegasthaven, Dutch Tussenland
Cause of deathExecution
OccupationMerchant, baker
Criminal charge(s)Insurrection, treason, sacrilege
Partner(s)Maaike Muys (1817-1904)

Joost Abajomie Ojo, simply referred to as Abajomie (Amerikaens: Abajomie van Tussenlandt), was a South Tussenlandic religious leader, martyr, saint, and central figure of Zoekerism. Born into slavery, he escaped at the age of fourteen. He converted to Christianity in 1819, preaching his egalitarian religious message while working as a merchant. Abajomie subsequently became a religious and political icon of the 1849 Revolution in South Tussenland, eventually being executed for his actions in 1853. After his death, his teachings greatly shaped the religion of Zoekerism and Afro-Amerikaener culture as a whole.


Abajomie was born with the Dutch name Joost Ruysbrack, the surname Ruysbrack being the name of the plantation he was born on. In 1821, he changed his first name to Abajomie - a common Yoruba name - in order to connect with his West African heritage. Years later in 1836, he adopted the last name Ojo, a royal surname connected to the imperial House of Oranyan.

Early life and conversion

Abajomie was born a slave on the riverside Ruysbrack plantation in Doeckoe, South Tussenland. The plantation was under the management of the Royal Tussenland Company. According to written accounts, his grandparents arrived in South Tussenland from Cuba in the 18th century.

Photograph of Ruysbrack plantation in 1934 shortly before its demolition.

At age 14, he escaped the plantation and fled to the county of Daxomey, where he took refuge with a group of escaped slaves. During this period of his life, he was briefly abducted by a French merchant but narrowly escaped with his life.

Two years later, he emigrated to the city of Vrÿheidt, where he became acquainted with freed slave, baker, and abolitionist Karlÿn de Backer. He became a protégé of de Backer, converting to Christianity in 1819 and picking up the vocation of baking.

Leadership in the Revolution

Influenced by his time in Daxomey county and as a slave, he began syncretizing Protestantism with traditional West African religions.

Imprisonment and death

Exhumation and reburial

In 1922, after the secularization of South Tussenland, Abajomie's body was exhumed in order to conclusively state his cause of death after lengthy court proceedings. Thousands protested against the exhumation, leading to riots. Days later, morticians stated his cause of death as strangulation. His corpse was moved from Elegasthaven and reburied in the capital city of Vrÿheidt out of concern of rising sea levels.

Legacy and teachings

Public speeches

Fragments of Abajomie's speeches survive in Zoekerist texts, diary entries, and government documents at the time. Four speeches of his gained primary importance in the Zoekerist tradition, namely:

  • Our Intention of Faith (1823), in Daxomey county
  • Declaration of Shrekskill (1835)
  • Sabinian Resolution (1848)
  • 'The Good and Candid Pursuits' Speech (1852)

See also