How will you celebrate and commemorate Keti Koti?

Table with meals

On July 1st, in the Netherlands, Suriname and the ABCSSS islands we celebrate and commemorate the abolition of slavery, also known as Keti Koti. On this day the living descendants of enslaved peoples celebrate the end of slavery, commemorate their ancestors, and practice tapping into Black joy. Keti Koti, which is a phrase from Suriname meaning “Broken Chains”, is a free celebration of liberty, equality and solidarity. In Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, Keti Koti is called Dia di Lucha pa Libertat (Papiamentu/o for “The Day of the Fight for Freedom”). On Saba, Statia and St. Maarten this important holiday is called Emancipation Day.

Although slavery was officially abolished in 1863, in practice a large part of the enslaved had to continue working on the plantations for another ten years. This means that in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, they were not actually free until 1873. Hence the use of the 1873 buttons, created by Perez Jong Loy (1954-2019) and worn by many living descendants on this day. We commemorate their struggle on July 1st.

While this is currently not a national holiday, we encourage specifically the living descendants of enslaved peoples and other Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour at the UvA to take a day of rest and celebration. We encourage white people of the UvA to use the day for reflection and education, and celebrate alongside the living descendants. Here are some ways CDO team members are reflecting, resting and celebrating:

Attend the NiNsee Keti Koti Online Lecture 2021 – June 30th
This year’s NiNsee Keti Koti Lecture 2021 will be delivered by Professor Sir Hilary Beckles free via livestream. The title of the lecture is: The Dutch Can Lead Again: Reasoning on Reparations for Global Slavery.
• Sir Hilary Beckles is the 8th Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. He is also Chairman of the Caribbean Examinations Council, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Advisor on Sustainable Development to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Watch the National Commemoration Ceremony – July 1st
On 1 July 2021, the national commemoration of the abolition of slavery will take place at the National Monument to Slavery in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam.
• Live broadcast NOS & AT5 (13.00-15.00, NPO 2 & AT5); Replay in the evening.

Join Keti Koti Dialogue Table – July 1st
This year the CDO team is again sponsoring 100 bags to be delivered to your home for a delicious dinner. UvA students and employees can sign up to receive a free Keti Koti table bag with a ready-made two-course meal and participate in a guided dialogue table from home. This is done in collaboration with Stichting Keti Koti Dialoogtafel, which tirelessly aims to increase collective awareness of the legacy of the slavery and colonial past of the Netherlands.
• Click here to sign up for your UvA bag: Keti Koti Dialogue at your own kitchen table

Volunteer, donate and spread the word for Free Heri Heri – July 1st
Join Free Heri Heri as they distribute 15.000 free meals and the stories of ancestors. 4000 of which will be in Amsterdam. Be part of the movement. Volunteer, donate and spread the word.

Visit the Slavery Exhibition at the Rijksmuseum til August 29th
This exhibition about slavery takes the form of personal and real-life stories rather than abstract concepts. There are stories from Brazil, Suriname, and the Caribbean, and from South Africa and Asia.

Sign: Make July 1st a National Day Off
FunX, Nederland Wordt Beter and The Black Archives launched a campaign to make 1 July – Keti Koti – a national day off. It has already been signed by more than 15,000 people. Will you sign too?

Rest and reflect alone or with friends and family – July 1st
This includes making comfort food, sharing family stories, singing, laughing, dancing freely, hanging with friends and family and waving flags; and remembering and honoring ancestors. Journal about your thoughts and feelings, use creative expression (we like Haikus) to examine how you are feeling.

Fill in and share healing and resilience resources
Check out our earlier blog post around Communal and Self Care where we share resources that bring special attention to how BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and/or people of colour) can care and take care of each other.

Wishing you all a restful Keti Koti, Dia di Lucha pa Libertat and Emancipation Day!
–CDO team

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