Thousands of heri heri meals, numerous commemorations on National Day of Awareness
On the National Day of Awareness on Friday, June 30, there will be numerous commemorations and activities throughout the country. Also on the day before Keti Koti, on which the Netherlands commemorates and celebrates the abolition of slavery, thousands of free heri heri meals will be handed out.
Just like May 4 on the day before the Liberation Day celebrations, the Day of Awareness is a day of reflection. On June 30, colonial history and its impact on the present are discussed. During a commemoration on Surinameplein in Amsterdam, which has been held since 1993, speeches and wreaths will be laid at the Monument van Besef, the Monument of Awareness in English, from 6:00 p.m. There will be two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m.
There are also commemorations in other places in the country, including Amersfoort, Arnhem, Leeuwarden, Tilburg, Zoetermeer, and Zwolle. In Rotterdam, mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb will give a speech at the slavery monument in the Lloydkwartier.
Under the name Free Heri Heri For All, organizer KIP Republic will distribute the Surinamese dish heri heri for free in 15 cities throughout the Netherlands on Friday. “In memory of the slavery past and to connect the past with the present.” This will also happen on Saturday. Enslaved people ate heri heri on the plantations. The dish originated from what was grown and left over on the plantations. As it is known today, heri heri consists of boiled sweet potato, cassava, yellow and green banana, salted fish, and an egg.
KIP Republic will distribute thousands of meals from seventy locations, including the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, TU Delft, and De Nederlandsche Bank in Amsterdam. The meals served in Amsterdam are prepared in the kitchen of the Royal Palance on Dam Square. Over three days from Tuesday, 16 chefs will prepare 7,000 portions of heri heri in the palace.
The chefs, led by head chef Emmo Achthoven, will work with staff from the Royal House and Amsterdam locals. “It is an honor for us that King Willem-Alexander is opening up his kitchen to cook heri heri in the Royal Palace of Amsterdam. In this way, we also hope to support his message to connect together,” said Ayar Kip, one of the initiators. The Netherlands' history of slavery “concerns us all and unfortunately can still be felt, also in the form of racism and discrimination.”
The Royal Palace on Dam Square dates from 1655 and was partly funded with income from slavery. The decorations of the building, such as the facade decoration, the world maps on the floor of the Citizens’ Hall, the paintings, and the marble sculptures, reflect “the injustice that Amsterdam brought into the world. Our shared colonial history is intertwined with the building,” it says on the palace’s website. From July 1, visitors to the palace will receive a booklet about the slavery past.
In Utrecht, mayor Sharon Dijksma will speak at a meeting in the Griftpark, where a monument called “Flight and Resistance” will be unveiled in memory of slavery.
In the Noord-Holland provincial house in Haarlem, the exhibition “Slavery: Voices from the Past” will open. It tells the story of guest curator Winston Brandon’s enslaved ancestor.
From 8:00 p.m., there will be a vigil for the ancestors, also called Bato Neti, at the National Monument to Slavery in the Oosterpark in Amsterdam. There will also be a memorial concert in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam at 8:15 p.m., presented by FunX DJ Fernando Halman, where music will be played that was banned during the time of slavery.
Reporting by ANP