‘A Journey That We Have To Join Together’: 2 Dutch Women Confront Slavery’s Legacy

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tags: slavery, colonialism, Netherlands, reconciliation, Suriname

Peggy Bouva was at home in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam a couple of years ago when she got a call that fascinated her.

The woman on the phone, Maartje Duin, calling from Amsterdam, said she wanted to talk about slavery. Duin told Bouva that she had done some research into her own family history and found their families shared a connection: One of Duin's ancestors had co-owned a plantation in South America where Bouva's ancestors had been enslaved.

"This was the first time that I spoke with a white person about slavery and their connection with it," says Bouva, a business controller who is Black and whose parents emigrated to the Netherlands from Suriname, a country bordering Brazil that was a Dutch colony for nearly 300 years. "I was curious about where this all would lead."

Where it led was to two years of joint research that resulted in a popular, eight-part podcast the women co-produced and Duin hosted, delving into painful issues of the Netherlands' colonial past that most of the country has avoided confronting. They hope the podcast, which has half-a-million listeners, will help the Dutch acknowledge painful chapters in history and contribute to national healing.

Bouva had grown accustomed to hearing white Dutch people praise the era between the 16th and 19th centuries, when their ancestors thrived as sea traders. Their wealth helped fund Amsterdam's canal-side mansions and contributed to the Golden Age that produced Rembrandt and Vermeer.

The era also thrived on the slave trade. But Bouva's schoolbooks barely mentioned that ships from the Dutch West India Company, financed by Amsterdam's bankers, carried more than 600,000 Africans to be sold in the Americas. That seemed to be someone else's history.

Read entire article at KPBS

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