From Niemeyer tobacco, to the ships that docked at the Noorderhaven, to the Abel Tasmanplein, Groningen is as dripping in colonial reminders as the rest of the Netherlands
Political parties in the city council of Groningen believe that an investigation should be carried out into the role of the city of Groningen in the colonial past of the Netherlands, including the slave trade. Groningen should also add its voice to other cities that say that the Dutch State, should apologise for its vast wealth gained from the systematic subjugation of non-white people across the world. As reported by OOGTV.
Together with a number of other city council fractions, the D66 fraction in the city council will submit a motion next Wednesday, asking the city council for an explanation of Groningen’s slavery-laden past. The faction also wants an ‘appropriate response’ to the role that legal predecessors had in this, on behalf of the City.
This Thursday is Ketikoti, the day on which the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Caribbean part of the Netherlands is celebrated. According to councilor Jim Lo-A-Njoe, this is a good reason for the Municipal Executive to better investigate the role of Groningen in both the WIC (West India Company) and the VOC (East India Company): “And yes, I suspect that in the long term this may mean that the city council after reflection on the results, will have to apologise for the role of its predecessors.”
“As a result of research by the University of Groningen and the Groninger Archives, we already have a good idea of the role of city administrators in the WIC, but the role of Groningen in other overseas areas where e.g. the VOC was active can be better investigated”, continues Lo-A-Njoe. “Because contrary to what many people think, Groningen also had a co-determining role in the slave trade.”
In addition, D66 will ask the council to join the lobby of other large cities that are asking the national government to apologise as a state for the role of the Netherlands in slavery and slave trade. Lo-A-Njoe: “The state’s making of apologies can enrich awareness and dialogue about the slavery past in the Netherlands and help us overcome the often strong emotions and feelings about racism and discrimination as a society.”
Image: slaves on the island of Antigua, which was colonised by the British in 1632. Antigua then became one of the British centres for sugar cane growing, with a workforce entirely derived from displaced peoples used as slaves. Print from 1832, by British Library on Unsplash