Tuesday , February 27 2024

Abolition Dutch slave trade commemorated

The Daily Herald writes that the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and transport 200 years ago was commemorated in Middelburg, Zeeland, the Netherlands on Saturday. Some 300 persons attended the solemn commemoration, including Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk and Ministers Plenipotentiary Marvelyne Wiels of Curaçao and Alfonso Boekhoudt of Aruba. The cabinet of the St. Maarten Minister Plenipotentiary was represented by Director Perry Geerlings. Guest speaker was Lawrence Hill of Canada, writer of the famous “The Book of Negro,” published in 2012.
According to Hill victims of slavery were often recollected as “numbers.” “It is the task of artists to give them a face,” he said. Minister Plasterk and Amsterdam Alderwoman Andrée van Es told the gathering that awareness of the cruelties during the times of slavery could serve in being vigilant against racism nowadays.
Plasterk emphasized in his speech that everyone should keep making an effort to ban slavery worldwide. “We have to stand should to shoulder in the issue of fundamental equality of people. We have to be vigilant against racism to ban slavery forever,” he said.
The solemn ceremony at the Nieuwe Kerk was followed by the lowering of the flags of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba after which two minutes of silence was held in remembrance of the hundreds of thousands of slaves who were shipped from Africa to the Americas in the 16th, 17th and 18th century. Cities in Zeeland like Middelburg, Veere and Vlissingen played a trivial role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Middelburg Commercial Company MCC and the West Indian Company WIC undertook hundreds of slave voyages. Zeeland was responsible for the transport of almost 270,000 slaves, which is about half of the total number of slaves transported by the Dutch.
On June 15, 1814, King Willem I decided that Dutch ships were no longer allowed to transport slaves from Africa to the Americas. However, slavery continued to exist in the Dutch West and East Indies for many more years. It wasn’t until 1863 that slavery was abolished in Suriname and the former Netherlands Antilles islands.
According to the organiser of Saturday’s commemorative event in Middelburg, Harry van Waveren, the abolition in 1863 didn’t result in the actual freedom of many slaves. “1873 would have been a better year for the commemoration because many slaves had to continue working in service of the plantation owner before they were really free people,” he said.
The abolition of Dutch slavery in the West Indies was commemorated in Amsterdam throughout 2013. Middelburg continued the commemoration on Saturday, 200 years minus one day after King Willem abolished the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Throughout the summer months there will be various commemorative events in Middelburg including exhibitions, workshops, city walks and theatre plays.


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