June 26, 2018

Suriname’s slave registries now accessible online

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 7:35 pm

As of today, everybody online can access and search the Surinamese slave registries of the Dutch National Archives, in Dutch.

Started in summer 2017, it took 700 volunteers many months to digitise the entries about 80,000 slaves registered between 1830 and 1863, after which slavery was abolished. Slave owners were obliged to register the details of the slaves in their possession: details such as date of birth, the mother’s name, release or sale, if they had leprosy, and other matters that were important for determining their worth. This project was carried out as a collaboration between the Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and the Anton de Kom University of Surinam and financed thanks to donors.

One of the difficulties in searching the archive even today is that back then, slaves could not have last names. Their proper last name can be found on emancipation documents of 1863 and put together, many people can track the history of their ancestors.

(Link: nu.nl, Photo by Ian Mackenzie, some rights reserved)

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July 2, 2014

Apple bans educational game about Dutch slavery

Filed under: Gaming,History by Orangemaster @ 12:23 pm


The City of Amsterdam subsidized a free educational game entitled ‘Road to Freedom’ that was 1.5 years in the making to teach children about Dutch slavery in Surinam. It was produced by the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy and designed by Pepergroen to mark the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

The Afro-Surinamese community in the Netherlands wasn’t thrilled with the game, but neither were the Americans at Apple who called the content ”slanderous and insulting”. A quick Google search shows that Apple is not a fan of anything with slaves in it, like this sweatshop app.

On the one hand, anything too culturally confrontational makes many people from countries with unresolved colonial pasts uncomfortable and on the other, anything that is presented in a game format already downgrades the importance of historical relevance. If I were at school today and someone gave me a flee from a Russian labour camp game, I’d have a real problem with it and so would my parents.

I do get what the makers were trying to do, but unfortunately they have managed to trivialize something that deserves a much better platform. A Dutch friend of mine would say, ‘het idee is goed, maar de uitvoering is klote’ (‘The idea is good, but the execution is crap’).

UPDATE The video we had up yesterday introducing the game has been pulled offline.

(Link: www.joop.nl, www.volkskrant.nl, Screenshot of the game before it was yanked offline)

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January 12, 2014

Alexine Tinne, 19th century explorer, fashion designer and photographer

Filed under: History by Branko Collin @ 10:02 pm

alexine-tinne-pdApart from the Arctics, the interior of Africa was one of the last places left for Europeans to ‘discover’ and finding the source of the Nile was a major goal for 19th century explorers.

One of these explorers was a woman from The Hague, Alexine Tinne (b. 1835 – d. 1869). Growing up as one of the richest heiresses of the Netherlands in a time when European women were expected to ‘know their place’, nobody would have batted an eyelid if Tinne had stayed at home and prepared for marriage. But even at a young age Alexine Tinne shared with her mother HenriĆ«tte (a former lady-in-waiting and daughter of an admiral) a thirst for travel.

In 1855 mother and daughter sailed up the Nile for the first time in order to reach Karthoum, but it would take them several expeditions to succeed. In 1861 they not only reached Karthoum but decided to push through to Gondokoro in Sudan (near present-day Juba) and beyond. Gondokoro was known as the last place where the Nile was navigable but Tinne fell ill there.

During an attempt in 1863 Tinne lost her mother, her aunt and two servants; it would be her last voyage up the Nile. Writer Redmond O’Hanlon told Historiek.net that he believes Tinne and her mother wanted to discover the source of the Nile: “that was their goal, I am sure of it.” But contemporaries did not approve of women explorers and O’Hanlon fears this is why the Tinne expedition kept schtum about its real motives. Samuel Baker, another Nile explorer of the time, wrote of the competition: “There are Dutch ladies travelling without any gentlemen… They must be demented. A young lady alone with the Dinka tribe… they really must be mad. All the natives are naked as the day they were born.”

Tinne, who felt responsible for the death of her mother and aunt, stayed in Africa. In 1869 Alexine Tinne, while living in Tunesia, decided to cross the Sahara. On 2 August of that year her caravan was ambushed by Tuaregs at the wadi of Chergui in what is now Algeria. Tinne was killed with two sword blows and a gun shot.

Although she only reached the age of 33, she accomplished quite a lot during her life. She designed clothes that she wore herself, wrote and drew the source materials for a botanical guide about the plant life in Sudan (the Plantae Tinneanae), started a half-way house for freed slaves and, in between two of her Nile expeditions, experimented with photography.

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