Master’s student: The apology – it’s whatever, thanks, no thanks | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–Master’s student of political science with a concentration in international relations at North-eastern University Kamilah Gumbs minced no words in expressing her sentiments about the Dutch government’s apology for slavery past delivered in The Hague, the Netherlands, on December 19.

  “My stance is simple. The apology – it’s whatever. Thanks, no thanks,” stated Gumbs, who also graduated magna cum laude from Wichita State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science with minors in sociology and communication.

  Her remarks were read by Lysanne Charles during a ceremony held at University of St. Martin (USM) where local officials got a chance to respond to the Dutch apology.

 “We know, the Netherlands is a mega coloniser and needs to be held accountable for their crimes. I am curious to see the findings of the investigation. However, the fact that we are wasting our time and energy to argue whether we accept it or not, and this is what really should happen, instead of community work, holding our elected officials accountable and doing adequate research, that would tell you [the Caribbean Community’s – Ed.] CARICOM’s 10 step plan doesn’t make any sense, is disappointing and laughable,” noted Gumbs, who honed her leadership skills as a member of St. Maarten Youth Parliament, which she served as President from 2016 to 2018, and currently serves as an Alumni Advisor. She has a passion for policy, and a vision to see St. Maarten take its rightful place on the global stage.

  She said the Dutch government’s reaction to the document “Chains of the past” is something that will not have an impact on how people function day-to-day in St. Maarten. “From a policy and political standpoint, this is the first step for the Netherlands to make amends on the global stage as they have received pressure from the United Nations and the new findings of oil in Guyana, where there was the historical Dutch presence and a neighbour to Suriname. While I mention the actions of the Dutch government regarding this apology are not something we need to fuss about, this should be the time to have important conversations about our stance as a country within the Kingdom,” she noted.

 “The Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is commonly referred to as the Statuut, is a document that has outlined the relationship between the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean since 1954. While it was adjusted to reflect the change of 10-10-10, there has not been a true revision of how we interact with each other within the Kingdom. And that is a problem. Functioning on a document that is reflective of the past, means how we function is archaic.” 

  Now that discussions are happening on “the harms” of the Dutch in the past and how it impacts the future, she said the first step moving forward is to have a dialogue. “Speak with people. From grassroots organisations to government, we function solely in bubbles and only listen and engage with persons who agree with our stance 100%. That is ineffective for any meaningful change. The issue is, we lack discipline, and we lack the skill of diplomacy. We want to yell about what we believe we are entitled to before having any previous conversations. Would you walk up to your neighbour and tell them they are entitled to give you the extra bag of sugar in their cabinet because you do not have any sugar and you saw them take the last one from the shop? No, you would not, and your neighbour might never speak to you ever again,” she said.

 “That is the problem we have here in St. Maarten. We are quick to blame, alienate, refuse to converse, and not hold ourselves accountable for our actions, so it becomes impossible to have conversations around remuneration and how the Dutch can assist in helping us build a better St. Maarten.”

  She stressed that St. Maarten is a unique country that boasts about its people, culture, and what it provides, but questioned, how can we continue to be boastful about ourselves if we are not working on correcting our wrongs and improving our community?

  “The issue we have when we start yelling about reparations and the path to independence is that we are twenty steps ahead and have not started with an outline. A friend of mine made a statement that I believe describes our issue as a people perfectly “Focused on the horizon and not the shore.” We dream, sing, and dance about us being a free country, away from the colonial bondages, but if we look at our shore right now, it is dutty. Dutty bad. Our education systems are crumbling, our ecosystems are dying (for Christ’s sake, leave the mangroves alone), and our people are hungry, struggling to pay rent and GEBE. The average man is debating if they have the will to survive. Why are you so hell-bent on this apology when we got things to sort out first?” she asked.

Source: The Daily Herald


  1. Many people see the inequality on the Caribbean islands, within the kingdom, and the poverty of a large part of the population. They think, write or do something to make society more honest. Everyone in their own capacity or influence.
    Fortunately the people who are victimized by exploitation or poverty can get support from people of all kind of political colors.

    Strategy is something that can be learned if people are open for it. It’s quite a top-down process, in which you have to start at the beginning. In this reaction I can describe this process, as I’ve done before for many different organizations in various countries. The filling in MUST be a collective process, in which I can advise, be part of the process, but never ever can I alone define what’s good or acceptable for everyone.
    Walking through the process with a group of people is important for all choices to make, for cohesion of the coalition and for focus on goals, no matter what happens.

    Strategy is the art of mobilizing and using as much support as possible for the execution of the planning for implementation or reaching of any goal or policy.

    Essential is, understanding and agreeing a few core values necessary for coalition forming. All those would-be leaders who exclude coalitions based on personal or discriminating statements are setting this process in reverse. We must be capable of working together no matter political background, religion or philosophical ideas. These values tell what we find important, what we believe. Values are used to communicate with others, and can make the connection, because other people can identify with them. Think about: equality, empowerment, awareness, respect, participation, transformation, or others.

    This can be used to write a mission statement, in which we write what drives us, who we are, what we do, why and for whom. A good mission statement is usually composed by answering a number of questions, putting the text together and then trying to diminish the number of words. It’s about the present time.

    The third step is composing a vision statement. Here we must give what we strive for, what we wish to accomplish. Again, there are models with questions to answer to come to a vision statement that everyone could agree upon. It’s about the future.

    Just a look back at organizations that failed to accomplish enduring coalitions. The main reasons why alliances are broken apart:
    No shared principle agreed statements like: values, mission and/or vision.
    Not coming out of the starting blocks.
    Not enough management of the process.
    No clear set of goals, targets, milestones and timeframes.
    Not the right amount of effort put into the alliance by all parties.
    Not enough adaptability or flexibility.
    Not enough transparency or trust.

    Fourth step is defining a common goal, exact defined, but global enough so all could say: yes, I agree, I want to participate. Here are two possibilities: a common general goal, or a common specific theme oriented goal, for instance for education or jobs. Most often there are more than one goals for different parts of the execution of the vision.

    Fifth step is, based on the common goal, define a strategy statement, a policy that can be used for communication.
    Which can be translated to a strategic plan (step 6) with what, when, by whom, etc.

    For those who have done this before next step is the translation for strategic goals to tactics.
    Tactics statement and tactics plan.
    Here it’s all about influencing people, getting things done. Use the paraphrase Head-Heart-Hands-Feet (look it up).
    This gives a good grip on the different actions that are planned and executed to trigger change. Organizations that fail to understand this model fail in accomplishing their strategy.

    Now back to your question, Francine. I would suggest that the most important strategic goal should be accomplishing equality in all aspects of society. This means that – if the islands are part of the State of the Netherlands – all people should be treated the same, just like the constitution declares. That is a mayor problem that the colonial civil servants have created. Different laws and rules for secondary citizens. The mentality of the Van Rij’s is not different from what the Dutch slave traders initiated.
    And equality means that in all aspects of society the chances should be the same. Entrance to good education, good social welfare, a good health system, infrastructure, enough houses, etc. Here you see, that one strategy common goal can easily be divided in at least 10 different goals.

  2. What strategic goals? So many people write articles about this topic full of fancy words but fail to say what they actually want. Help us out. What is it you want?

  3. She is right in many things. It isn’t about some empty words of a temporary prime minister.

    And we, we who want to change society for the better, need to understand that strategy means that we have to make a coalition as powerful possible to ensure that our strategic goals can be reached. We must stop following the polarizing persons of different groups or political parties, who have a primary goal, namely: themselves in a well paid job in politics, government or any subsidized organization. We all know them, of Bij1, UCF and more. Not helping is that people of color changed sides for personal carrière reasons. Franc Weerwind is just one of them, but Jerry Afriyie also is very keen on licking heels of King Pils.

    Awareness should focus on common strategic goals, and use blatant discrepancies to show that inequality in the Dutch system today is as severe as 150/160 years ago.
    Empty words are accompanied with alms of 200 million euros. Everyone can do the math. That is for people in all parts of the Netherlands, but also for Surinam.
    Not much, but an excuse museum does not change society. And that is exactly what Rutte c.s. want to prevent.

    For supporting the fight of Ukraine against Putin-Russia there will be a total of at least 3.5 billion euros.
    One big difference: most of the people in Ukraine are white.
    The snake Rutte has showed his true face!