photo: FunX

AMSTERDAM – If it’s up to a majority of the municipal council of Amsterdam, July 1st – the day on which the abolition of slavery in the Dutch Kingdom is remembered and celebrated – will become a national holiday like Kingsday and Liberation day.

The motion was proposed by councilmember Nenita La Rose (PvdA) and was supported by Groenlinks, Denk, Bij1, SP, Partij voor de Dieren, and ChristenUnie. Together they are good for 26 of the 45 seats in the municipal council and thus form a majority. The initiative to turn July 1st into a national holiday is not a new one within the Kingdom.

Already a national holiday on Sint Maarten
On Sint Maarten the day has been dubbed Emancipation Day. “On this day we celebrate that the Dutch colonial oppressors abolished slavery on Sint Maarten and in the rest of the Kingdom of the Netherlands”, says the government of Sint Maarten. This makes Sint Maarten the first and only country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands which has turned July 1st into a national holiday.

A statue of One Tete Loke on Sint Maarten – Source: Daily Herald

One of the freedom fighters which is being remembered on July 1st is One Tete Loke from Sint Maarten. She is known as a woman who voiced her opposition to slavery on Sint Maarten by running away from the plantations several times. This led to her torture and mutilation. This didn’t stop her from fighting for her own freedom and the freedom of others. This is the reason why there’s a statue of One Tete Loke on Sint Maarten.

Mini audio-series about Tula

Tula was the leader of the Curaçaoan slave revolt of 1795. Even though he played an important role in the fight for equality and freedom, his name is not known to a lot of people in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Children in the Netherlands specifically, don’t get to hear his story during the history lessons.

Natasja Gibbs in collaboration with (voice) actor Ayrton Kirchner created a mini audio series especially for this day, which focusses on the story of Curaçaoan freedom fighter Tula. The audio utilizes soundbites taken from the film ‘Tula the Revolt’.

The story of Tula by Natasja Gibbs & Ayrton Kirchner (Dutch spoken)

Download audio

Different day due to corona crisis
Due to the corona crisis large events are banned and most of the commemorations and celebrations are happening in smaller groups or online. That is also the case for the yearly Keti Koti Tafel. This will take place via a live stream, including a ‘Keti Koti Thuis Pakket’ which allows participants to partake in style from their living rooms. The same holds true for the yearly remembrance which is held in the Oosterpark and the festival immediately thereafter. Alternatives were thought up for those, which were live streamed on Facebook.

Remembrance march ‘Bigi Spikri’ in 2019 – By Sam Jones (Dutch spoken)

“The decision was a tough one and it naturally is a disappointment for the community and all those involved. Unfortunately we couldn’t make a different choice, because the health of the people is the most important factor and this was the best and safest solution for everyone”, writes the organization on their website. “The Keti Koti Festival will definitely return in 2021, in the Oosterpark and always on July 1st.”