‘Apologies for slavery do not come too soon, but too late’


The National Institute of the Dutch Slavery History and Legacy (NiNsee) does not believe that the Dutch cabinet is too hasty in apologizing for its slavery past. That says chairman Linda Nooitmeer News hour. Various Surinamese interest groups indicated that they had difficulty with this.

The organizations came with that criticism after the cabinet announced Friday what form the previously announced apologies for the slavery past will take. Seven cabinet members will each travel to a different former colony of the Netherlands and simultaneously express their apologies there on 19 December. Prime Minister Rutte is doing the same in the Netherlands.

The National Repair Commission Suriname (NRCS) believes that the Netherlands is working too hastily. But Nooitmeer cannot agree with that. “At the NiNsee, we have been working for twenty years to get the apologies from the Dutch state. As far as we are concerned, the apologies should have taken place in 1863. So when you talk about timing, we say: we are actually almost 160 years too late. leave.”

You have to grab the momentum when it comes. Strike the iron when it is hot.

Linda Nevermore

Another point of criticism from Surinamese interest groups is that it is not the king or the prime minister who comes to apologize, but Minister for Legal Protection Franc Weerwind. “At NiNsee we have always underlined the symbolic value of the king,” says Nooitmeer.

This is what people on the street in Paramaribo think of the way the Dutch cabinet wants to apologize for the slavery past:

“People are going to wonder: are these apologies sincere?”

The news that the apologies will take place on December 19 has hit Suriname “like a bomb”, says Iwan Brave, editor-in-chief of the Surinamese newspaper The True Time. “It came out of the blue. You already knew in advance: this is not going to go down well with the Surinamese community.”

He understands the criticism that the Netherlands is working too hastily in this way. “The party that receives an apology must also be prepared,” he says. “What will the text be? you want to receive it. You want to have all those kinds of preparations ready.”

For Nooitmeer it is more about the tone of voice of the apologies. “Which words are used? What do they radiate?”

As a positive example, she cites the speech by the mayor of Utrecht, Sharon Dijksma. “The first sentence of her speech was: transatlantic slavery and the slave trade was a crime against humanity. Bam. We didn’t whisper that to her, but because we indicated what we think is important in it, she came up with that speech that did justice to the feeling we had.”

Recovery calendar

She agrees that it should not stop with apologies. “We want to focus on the process after the apology. That is about the recovery agenda. How will the apology be implemented? What action plan will result from that?”

She points to the apologies that The Hague mayor Jan van Zanen made a week and a half ago for The Hague’s share in slavery. “He immediately attached an action plan, which will also include discussions with the citizens of The Hague. That is absolutely important.”

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