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Keti Koti (Sranantongo for “breaking the chains”), July 1, is the Emancipation Day (end of slavery) in Suriname. Each year we also celebrate this important day in the Netherlands. First with a memorial and after that a celebrate, usually in the form of a festival.
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 favor of the city of Paramaribo. In 2009 several cities in the Netherlands hosted various activities, making this day a day of national celebration and remembrance throughout the country. One-half of my family is from Surinam, the other half from the Netherlands.
So Keti Koti is an important day in my family’s history – and for me. It’s a day to celebrate freedom and look back on times when we couldn’t. It’s still not an official holiday here, and I’m kinda waiting for that to happen.
It’s a day to celebrate freedom and look back on times when we couldn’t. It’s still not an official holiday here, and I’m kinda waiting for that to happen because in my eyes this memorial day is just as important as any other – the ones we do celebrate. Let’s hope for the best – that it may happen soon!
Now I’m off celebrating my freedom!
Wanna know more about Keti Koti festival Amsterdam?
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