Dutch publishers and distributors can’t seem things to get right sometimes. Last year, a drugstore was selling a colouring book featuring Hitler, and now a mother was shocked to pick up a copy of ‘Suriname, here we come’ at the library containing some discriminating comments about the former Dutch colony.
The book tells children that cheating on one’s spouse is common and that men often have multiple women as partners. There’s all kinds of ways of discussing something like this seriously with children, but here the goal is to imply that it’s morally wrong, which is the wrong way to go about it. Why children need to know this if they visit Suriname is beyond me.
The rest depicts the Surinamese as bad people. “The Surinamese deliberately hit dogs with their cars, and used to sell themselves as slaves. Did you know that phone calls between Surinamese can often take a long time? A Surinamese needs an endless introduction and is unable to end a conversation”, all of which is presented as ‘facts’. I bet money the author is Caucasian and I can’t be bothered to check.
In light of pictures of the book’s content floating around Twitter, the publisher has decided to pull the book, basically admitting it was a bad decision to publish it in the first place. However, the publisher was obviously fine with it until they got called out for peddling such nastiness, which makes them tone-deaf and not suitable for children. Educate not hate, right?
And in true Dutch form, the ‘excuse’ contains “we never intended to hurt anyone”, but in fact they thought this was appropriate content to teach children until they were called out on social media.
Tags: children, children's books, discrimination, Suriname
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)
Tags: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, slavery, slaves, Suriname
The Rijksmuseum (State Museum) recently secured a long-term loan of some 80 photos from Surinam and Curaçao, two former Dutch colonies. The photo shown here is apparently the oldest known photo from Surinam, a daguerreotype, portraying a mixed race married couple that was taken in 1846 in Paramaribo, seven years after the advent of photography.
The lot is called ‘De West’ and can be admired as of 19 August. It also includes work from reputed photographers such as Augusta Curiel (1873-1937) and Willem Diepraam (1944).
(Link: wereldjournalisten.nl, Photo: rijksmuseum.nl)
Tags: Curaçao, Rijksmuseum, Suriname