Today, July 1, was Keti Koti, which means ‘broken chains’. It’s the day we commemorate and celebrate the ending of slavery in The Netherlands, 149 years ago.
And when I say ‘we’, I mean some people, not everyone. Because unlike in the US, where Juneteenth is a national holiday, this is not the case in The Netherlands. Not yet, at least.
Many people don’t see why Keti Koti should become a national holiday. They think slavery is too long ago. They believe Keti Koti is wokism and can’t stand it. Or they simply don’t care. But I hear more and more people who do think Keti Koti is of national importance. And I was delighted to see that there were activities all around the country today, related to Keti Koti.
A national holiday is more than just a day off. It’s more than a specific day in the year on which activities or festivities are organized. A national holiday is part of the narrative of a country. It’s a piece of the story we collectively tell ourselves about what we believe matters to us.
I want to live in a country that recognizes its own history. That is able to reflect on its own wrongdoings, how ever painful they may be. I want to live in a country that believes in justice, liberty and equality. What better way to symbolize these things than with a national holiday?