Published On: Mon, Jul 10th, 2017

Hidden Treasure

Jacob Gelt Dekker“Anansi, you have been very quiet hanging there in your hammock and listening to my boring stories about the islands and their history. Tell me, why are you still on board?”

“Easy man! You know all about pirates with treasure, and I know, sooner or later, you will get us to the treasure trove, and I will be rich. ”

“So, you are piggybacking and became my free rider, soon to become a freeloader!

Now, let me ask you a question.

Why do you think all these pirates put their jewels, gold, and silver in chests and buried it somewhere on a secret, deserted island, where alone they could find it?”

Most of them knew very well that they stood a good chance to die in the next battle and would never see their treasure again. Why bury their hard fought treasures, why?”

“Silly white man, they buried treasure because of me. They wanted me to find it. You see, those old pirates were not as ruthless as you, Dutch traders. They had a heart and were saving their spoils for us, the people of Ashanti, for all the Anansi in the world.  You see, all that treasure is reparation payment for all our sufferings.”

“Ha, very smart, but I do not think so. Let us ask our other stowaway, Captain Hendrick van der Decken. The Flying Dutchman knows the trading mentality of the VOC and WIC, and of those privateers, pirates, and buccaneers like no one else.”

That night Captain van der Decken appeared on the front deck, dressed in sober black with a large hat. He looked like a Dutch Calvinist clergyman, straight from the pulpit of the Synod of Dordt and about to open his Bible.

And thus Van der Decken spoke, “By the Grace of God, it was ordained that the lazy and worthless, who dig a hole in the ground to hide their money, will be cast into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.( Read Matthew 25: 14-30.)”

I recalled the story from Sunday school and once upon a time in Surinam, Anansi must have heard it as well. A master entrusted five, two and one talents to his slaves and went on a trip. When he returned, he asked the slaves what they had done with the money. The first one had made another five talents, the next one two, but the last one had put in the ground and returned it to his master without even a little interest.

And as if his message was not sufficiently understood, Captain Hendrick van der Decken hollered directly into the wind, “We harvest where we did not sow. We gather where we did not scatter seed.”

“You see Anansi; Pirates were unable to invest their money in any legal production economy. After they had spent some of their money on super-consumption, by debauchery and drunkenness often at massively inflated prices, they had no other option but to dig a hole in the ground.

It was like Pablo Escobar in recent history. With cocaine trafficking, the gangster made 40 million dollars per month on a little island in the Bahamas. But the little island had minimal production of anything, and money laundering in the world had become very complicated. Soon, Escobar had no way to spend his greenbacks, so he hit is it barrels and dug pits into the ground. He took the money out of circulation and thus it became worthless currency. He finished up in jail and died a miserable death.

Pirates did the same. For a short while, they caused huge inflation with super-consumption, and then had no other option but to take it out of circulation by burying it. It is the same old story as the inflation caused on the Hadj by Mansa Musa in Mali and the Spanish inflation of the 16th and 17th century.”

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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