Royal couple visits slave leader Tula’s estate: “It may inspire us to be ourselves”

Royal couple visits slave leader Tula’s estate: “It may inspire us to be ourselves”

Today, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima and Princess Amalia visit the Tula Museum in Curaçao. Tula was an enslaved person who led a major rebellion on the island in 1795. The museum in Landhuis Knip is currently being restored and will reopen later this year.

For director Jeanne Henriquez, the visit means a lot. “Here in Curaçao, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of leadership. That’s why it’s important to tell more about Tula, and it’s good that the king is here.”

“We stated long ago that Tula is not a vagrant as the books claim. Therefore, it is important for the Netherlands to announce that it will rehabilitate it, ”says Foreign Minister Van Hufflen (Kingdom Relations).

Telling the story of Tula in schools is particularly important to Henriquez. That’s not the case in Curaçao, he argues. “He is not just a hero, we must be heroes too. We must learn from his story to have the courage to stand up for ourselves. We still have a colonial spirit here. Tula can inspire you to be yourself, not something others want. Ultimately, we have to stand on our own two feet here. For that, we need to know our own roots.”

Even though the museum is being restored, Willem-Alexander, Máxima and Amalia still visit, as there is so much to tell:

Henriquez explains why Landhuis Knip is of such historical significance: it’s the site of the slave revolt but also a place where people had to live in a kind of feudal system until 1975. This is called “paga tera”. After the abolition of slavery, the freedmen were given a piece of land, but they had to work for its owner unpaid. “For example, if the landlord wanted to paint his house, you had to do that. If you went fishing, you should have given some of the catch to its owner.”

Mr. Monte, 88, grew up in this system in Landhuis Knip. He says he has no other choice. “If you hadn’t worked for the owner of the mansion, you could have been sent off and you’d have nothing left.” Still, he has no bad memories of his childhood. They had food and clothing.

As a child, he was unaware of the situation. But when he looks back, he sees that the past of slavery continues. “Former slaves adopted this system. But they were not really free. They remained subjects of their owner, Shon.”

Mr. Monte accepted the Dutch government’s apologies for his history of slavery. No need to apologize to the king:

King Willem-Alexander is not expected to apologize for his history of slavery on this visit to the islands. The trip was conceived as Princess Amalia’s entry into the Caribbean part of the kingdom. On July 1, the king will speak at Ketikoti, the annual celebration of the abolition of slavery. He can apologize there.

Source: NOS

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