Zambia News

Dutch Slavery: Saying Sorry Divides the Country

The prime minister will give a statement on Monday, and ministers will go to the Caribbean and Suriname. All of these events are part of the Netherlands’ planned apology for slavery.

What Mark Rutte plans to say is now unknown due to criticism about the day picked and the manner in which the announcement was handled.

Critics complain about inadequate consultation and charge that the Dutch cabinet’s efforts to force it through have a “colonial flavor.”

A court injunction was filed by six Suriname foundations to postpone the apology until July 1, 2023, which would be the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Dutch colonies.

According to DJ Etienne Wix, whose community radio station mArt was one of the organizations requesting a new date, “if there is an apology, it should be on the first of July, which is the date of our freedom, when they released our shackles.”

Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Dutch traders trafficked more than 600,000 individuals from Africa and Asia.

In the “New World,” which was comprised of colonized lands in the Americas and Caribbean, enslaved men, women, and children were made to labor as household slaves, in mines, and on sugar, coffee, and tobacco plantations. Extreme physical, mental, and sexual abuse was inflicted upon them.

Profits from this grueling labor contributed to the “Golden Age,” a time of economic prosperity in the 17th century when the Netherlands experienced enormous advances in science and culture.

According to a research by the Dutch Research Council, slavery contributed to 40% of economic growth in the western region of Holland between 1738 and 1780.

Pepijn Brandon, professor of Global Economic and Social History at the Free University of Amsterdam and author of the study, claims that the Netherlands is one of the European cultures with the strongest and most pervasive connections to slavery.

With the awareness that colonialism and slavery were at the core of the Netherlands being a major trade nation in the globe, he feels there has been a shift in popular opinion of the legacy of Dutch slavery over the past ten years.

He continues that the matter is being treated considerably differently as seen by the increased media and educational focus. Fundamental questions concerning the distribution of Dutch wealth and the persistence of colonial-era attitudes today have been sparked by this awakening.

Quinsy Gario, a poet and advocate for equal rights, squints in the late-afternoon sun in a frost-covered park in the eastern part of Amsterdam.

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