A commemoration march will be held in Amsterdam on Thursday to officially start the Keti Koti month. This month, various organizations will use all kinds of activities to draw intensive attention to the history of slavery in the Netherlands.
The commemoration march, or the Mere Waka, starts at 2:30 p.m. on Dam Square and ends at the official residence of Mayor Femke Halsema on Herengracht. There, participants will lay wreaths, give speeches, and bring a libation, a spiritual ritual with water. Also, the first 150 Heri Heri meals will be distributed as part of the Free Heri Heri. This is an initiative in which the Surinamese dish is eaten free and together to connect the slavery past with the present.
Throughout the month of Keti Koti, there will be commemorations, lectures, theatre performances, and festivals throughout the country. Keti Koti tables are also being organized. On July 1, the National Remembrance Day for Slavery will be held in the Oosterpark. King Willem-Alexander will give a speech there. Queen Maxima and Prime Minister Mark Rutte will also attend, together with a delegation from the Cabinet. The Keti Koti Festival will then take place on the Museumplein.
The Netherlands commemorates and celebrates Keti Koti, which means “broken chains,” on July 1. This year is the 160th anniversary of the Netherlands formally abolishing slavery and 150 years since everyone was free in practice in Suriname and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. This year’s commemoration also marks the official start of the Slavery Past Commemoration year, which will run from 1 July 2023 to 1 July 2024.
Reporting by ANP