Saba was represented at the Emancipation Day event at Arnhem’s Ronde Weide park on Thursday, June 30. Arnhem is the first city in the Dutch province Gelderland to bring such awareness of Emancipation Day and organise remembrance and celebratory events. Saba government advisor Gerald Simmons attended the event on behalf of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.
“Terrible actions in our history are like throwing a massive rock in a calm pond. The waves that rock creates are the ripple effects that surpass many generations. It starts with acknowledging the ripples and their impact. Until this day, the effects of slavery and this dark part of the Dutch history are visible on Saba and in our community.
“It is beautiful to see how the city of Arnhem remembers and acknowledges the past and celebrates Emancipation Day in this way, and it is very good to see more cities in the Netherlands have events like these in Arnhem,” said Simmons.
The event was organised by the June 30 and July 1 Committee chaired by Barbara Esseboom. The committee’s mission is to contribute to improving knowledge and awareness of the Dutch trans-Atlantic slave trade history. The committee’s central principles are connection, freedom, equality, equivalence and spreading of knowledge. In remembering and celebrating Emancipation Day, the committee applies education, art, culture and dialogue as main means to reach its goals.
Arnhem Mayor Ahmed Marcouch was one of the speakers at the event. “I saw even in the historical mayor’s office that the family crest of former mayor Pels Rijcken includes a depiction of slaves and cotton plantations. This is symbolism of a very dark past of the history of the Netherlands.
“Arnhem is building a beautiful series of milestones in schools and via cultural organisations such as the June 30 and July 1 Committee. I believe that education is the answer. `Keti Koti’ teaches us that it is possible to break the chains, because no man or woman can be owned by another,” said Marcouch.
Marcouch and Simmons discussed collaboration possibilities between Saba and Arnhem. They concluded that this is most definitely worth further joint exploration. “Step-by-step Saba is building a network in the Netherlands on a municipal level. The exploration of a possible collaboration with also Arnhem follows and adds to the other good contacts that Saba has made with other cities, such as the previous working visit of the Saba delegation to Alkmaar,” said Simmons.
The Daily Herald.