Published On: Mon, Aug 28th, 2017

Who will come to the rescue???

Jacob Gelt Dekker“Yes, Anansi, Essequibo, Berbice, and Surinam is an unfortunate story. Maybe I should not have told you.”

“Oh no, I am pleased. Now I know that my nephews called Atta, Accara, and Accabre, are named after heroes. I also know many Cuffies. My family is famous, man!” Anansi swung in his hammock, rocking on reggae, smoking a joint and celebrating his very own Keti Koti, abolition.

“History has completely reversed itself.

Former Caribbean slave families are crossing the Atlantic again, but this time, migrating to Europe, to the countries of their former slave masters; not just a few, but hundreds of thousands.

At the same time, we still have a lot of slavery in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of young people and children are sold or kidnapped every year. Ruthless gangsters sell them to work in agriculture, mostly in the West African cacao industry and for herding cattle, goats, and camels in the Sahel. With a lot of diplomatic pressure, countries may sign abolition agreements, but that means very little in practice.

You cannot just give slaves a piece of paper that states that they are free; they cannot even read. They have no education and money to support their families. Manumission takes far more than that; you need to re-educate and re-train these people so that they can take care of themselves.”

“What do I care? Let them figure it out by themselves, out there in Timbuktu, like we had to do. We, I mean all the African slaves in the Caribbean and the Americas, never got any special support from Africa. No one from Africa came over to protest brutal treatment by plantation overseers or tried to get us free or help us.

African kings, chiefs and their cronies took the money, became super-rich and lived in grand luxury. That is what they still do. They do not care about slaves or poor people.”

“But Anansi, you cannot say that. We all signed and supported the Human Rights Act by the United Nations of 1948. Yes, we have to care and take care. The Western world has already spent over one trillion US-dollars in foreign aid in Africa over the last twenty years only. It’s got to make a difference.”

“Am I my African brothers’ keeper?? No man, I am already too busy with my troubles. My mother is of Surinam, my father Essequibo, and my brothers are all in Bijlmermeer, near Amsterdam, not to speak of my many sisters who live on many  Caribbean islands. You see, that is why I am a spider, I am in the middle of a family web with long silk threads to all of them. They only have to pull, and I know they need me.”

“Sorry, Anansi,  have you no heart? I cannot watch the sufferings of all these desperate people, crammed in ramshackle vessels, trying to get from Libya to Lampedusa; many, many drown.

People of the Caribbean, many of them descendants of slaves, do not want to know about African slavery; they do not want to discuss it, and they refuse help. Amazing, when Surinam became independent more than half the population moved to Holland, nobody went to Africa.”

“Oh please, come on, silly, white man. In Holland, nice welfare payments, free housing, free education and free medical care awaited every new arrival. What do you think they would have gotten in Africa?? Right, nothing!”

“Let’s get on with our story. Let me introduce you to Admiral Abraham Crijnssen. He was probably born in 1610 or 1615, in Flushings, or Vlissingen as they say in Zeeland. In 1665, he became Commander at the Admiralty of Zeeland. Crijnssen tried to rescue whatever possible for the Republic of the Low Lands, from the greedy British who eagerly stole Holland’s wealth and prosperity.

From 1600-1653, the Dutch Republic enjoyed enormous profits, not from slavery which had hardly started yet, but from salt/herring and piracy,  but the second part of the 17th century became a complete disaster.

In 1672, known as the "Ramp Jaar," the "Disaster Year, the Dutch people were 'redeloos,' its government 'radeloos,' and the country 'reddeloos': senseless, desperate, and beyond rescue.

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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