What better symbol?
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?