The ‘St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance’ pushes decolonization agenda forward | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Since the start of the protests against the controversial excavations, Ubuntu Connected Front (UCF) Caribbean has been excluded from participation by the government representatives of St. Eustatius and the ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK). None of our numerous requests have been honored no matter what the report of the Statia Heritage and Research Commission (SHRC) may claim.

The reason for this as we see it is that both the local and Dutch national government refuse to see the core of the problem with the excavations in the light of colonial relations and the structures behind them. It is a refusal to address systemic racism and inequality and the effects on everyday life of people in the Afrikan diaspora to the present day. But even though St. Eustatius is an island, this attitude can no longer stand, as several decolonization themes are now very topical.

In connection with the maiden visit of the new state secretary Ms. Alexandra van Huffelen, of Kingdom Relations, and her quest to familiarize herself with the colonial part of the Dutch Kingdom, we deem it important to reiterate the importance of the respectful treatment of persons of Afrikan descent from the past, present or future.

We can remain quiet and not address “the elephant in the room” pointing to the fact that although her previous Dutch (Kingdom) Government, who almost on the eleventh hour before going into an election, resigned because of the blatant racist attacks by the tax department on persons of Afrikan descent, emerged even more victorious. This indicates to us that dealing with racism should be even more important than global warming. Because of a racist posture, persons of Afrikan descent might most likely be taken advantage of in the areas of, to name a few: Climate and the environment; Housing; Health; Education; Work and taxes; Law and order; Immigration and asylum; Mobility; and Arts and culture (list taken from December 15, 2021, “The new government’s plan: what you need to know”).

It might be comforting for the present Dutch government to have as one of the areas of the coalition accord to allocate annually part of 170 million euros for arts and culture, to contribute of the establishment of a national history and slavery museum. It is the hope of our Alliance that artifacts and remains that were gained through what they might call legal plundering, should not be in such an institution but must be returned to the rightful places from which they were stolen from, and treated with dignity and respect.

In a recent article of February 10, 2022, The Daily Herald “Reports highlights Dutch central bank’s links to slavers and the slave trade” where more facts of the Dutch continued accumulation of wealth because of the trade. What is mind boggling is, that even though slavery was abolished by the Netherlands in 1863, almost 160 years ago, business still continued as if nothing had changed.

A company like the “Geoctrooieerde Westindische Compagnie” also known as “The Dutch West India Company” still owns properties in the Caribbean, including St. Eustatius. An interesting question is: who still dare to manage assets of this company’s, knowing that the Trans-Atlantic slave trade has been, and still is, a crime against humanity. Similar companies also were established by Denmark, French, and Sweden, all with the charter to monopolize the trading of enslaved persons.

Since the release a few weeks ago of the final report by the Statia Heritage Research Commission, the commission that was put in place to investigate the mishandling of the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR) with respect to Golden Rock excavations, recently not much been heard of, other than appointing a person to an official position within government of St. Eustatius as a Heritage Inspector and embracing the recommendations.

At the end of 2021, UCF Caribbean formed the St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance. We now have allies in Jamaica, St. Helena, the US and the Netherlands. We will continue to expand this network of Afrikan centered activists, scientists, and organizations and together we will push the decolonization agenda forward.

Source: Souliga Newsday