ECF is happy to have been invited to participate in the programme of the Keti Koti Dialogue Tables taking place in Amsterdam on 29 and 30 June, and preceding Emancipation Day (the end of slavery) celebrated in 1 July in Suriname. Keti Koti means "the chains are cut" in Sranantongo, and this important day has now finally become a more integral part of Dutch society.
The Keti Koti Dialogue Tables aim to initiate dialogue by strengthening links between people through this new tradition, and to nurture a reflexion on our shared history.
The two day-long Keti Koti Dialogue Table conversations end on the morning of 30 June, the Dutch National Memorial Day of History and Heritage of Slavery (Nationale Herdenking Nederlands Slavernijverleden en Erfenis). Official ceremonies take place in the evening, in the presence of members of Government, of Ministers Plenipotentiaries of Curacao, St. Martin and Aruba, of the Ambassadors of Suriname, Ghana and South Africa, and of Mayor of Amsterdam. The Keti Koti Dialogue Table is followed by the Keti Koti Festival on 1 July, celebrating the end of slavery. You can find the detailed programme on the Keti Koti website.
Slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. However, slaves in Suriname would not be fully free until 1873, after a mandatory 10-year transition period during which time they were required to work on the plantations for minimal pay and without state sanctioned torture. After 1873 many slaves left the plantations where they had suffered for several generations, in favour of the city of Paramaribo.
Since 2009 several cities in the Netherlands host various activities, making this day a day of national celebration and remembrance throughout the country. These remembrance and celebration activities do reflect the wider discussions in Europe on the history and heritage of slavery in our contemporary societies, on our colonial past and the urgency in contemporary Europe to rewrite our common histories.
At ECF we explore and contribute to inclusive narratives for Europe. Those narratives do take our, sometimes dark, histories into account and also consider the fact that across Europe and its neighbouring countries, more and more people are confronted with discrimination and exclusion on a daily basis – whether economically, politically or culturally. In a continent where societies are becoming increasingly fragmented, building bridges to help us live alongside each other is an urgent imperative, and a priority in the European Cultural Foundation’s focus over the coming years. ECF acknowledges the need to foster communities and societies with greater solidarity and equality – and a stronger sense of social justice. ECF is grateful to take part in the Keti Koti Dialogue Table, a cultural initiative that offers a unique opportunity to learn from one another and share experiences.