Activists renew effort to mark end of slavery with national holiday

Jerry Afriyie and other activists are making a new push for a public holiday to mark the end of slavery. The activists united in DeGoedeZaak will take July 1 off in protest and call on the rest of the Netherlands to join them and post photos of themselves on social media with the hashtag #1JULIVRIJ.

“I’m taking July 1 off, because July 1 (either Keti Koti or Dia di Abolishon) should be a national day of remembrance and a holiday, which we have off. Join us, take time off too, until we’re all free,” Afriyie said on Twitter. 

On July 1, 1863, the Netherlands abolished slavery in its colonies in Suriname and the former Dutch Antilles. Though some “freed” people were still forced to work on plantations in Suriname until a decade later. 

The Netherlands commemorates the day on July 1. It is known as Keti Koti, which means “broken chains” in Sranan Tongo. Keti Koti is already a national holiday in Suriname.

And the Netherlands must follow suit, according to DeGoedeZaak. “The effects of the colonial past still permeate the present and are the cause of the current inequality in society. But after almost 150 years, July 1 is still not a national commemoration- and holiday in the Netherlands, on which we have the day off and dwell on this. This must change. Together we can make this happen,” the activists wrote on their website. 

The site includes a template letter you can send to your boss to inform them that you’re taking July 1 off, as well as information on ways to celebrate the end of slavery and commemorate the atrocities committed during it. There are also links to where you can get free Heri Heri on July 1, information about the commemoration in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam, and a reading- and podcast list if you want to find out more. 

Last year, the activists collected over 60,000 signatures for making Keti Koti a national holiday. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, is still considering the petition. 

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