Former head Zwarte Piet joins anti-racism activist for new Sinterklaas show
Erik van Muiswinkel will return to his role as the Head Piet after a five-year absence from the position. The 60-year-old cabaret artist will reprise his role as part of the YouTube series De Staff van Sinterklaas.
Jerry Afriyie, the head of the activist group Kick Out Zwarte Piet, is making the series with support from Nederland Wordt Beter, a civil rights foundation.
In the series, the Piet characters who assist Sinterklaas will have a warm, sun-kissed complexion because they spend most of the year in Spain. They will use a special golden key to deliver the gifts through the door, making chimney ash and soot smudges a thing of the past. The Pieten also no longer wear a feather on their beret because to cut an apparent link to the history of slavery, according to Afriyie and his team.
Broadcasting service NTR prominently featured Erik van Muiswinkel in the annual television program Sinterklaasjournaal for almost twenty years. He and Jochem Myjer, who played Pietje Paniek, decided to resign in 2016 because of their opinion that NTR was not quick to change the blackface appearance of the Pieten. In 2016, media network RTL decided to make the change from blackface to sooty smudges for their Pieten, but NTR opted for a long-term plan of more gradual changes and was not ready to do the same until three years later.
The first episode of the new season of De Staff van Sinterklaas can be seen on YouTube starting Monday. A new episode will be added three times until Sinterklaas leaves the Netherlands.
Reporting by ANP