Angry protesters force Dutch Royals to rush off from Cape Town slavery museum
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were forced to quickly get to their car after encountering an angry crowd of demonstrators on Friday during a visit to a museum for the history of slavery in Cape Town, South Africa. The atmosphere was grim, where the demonstrators left little room for the couple, and the security guards had to intervene forcefully. The couple managed to leave for their next appearance without injury.
The group of people gathered at the Iziko Slave Lodge to draw attention to the role of the Netherlands in South Africa’s historical ties to slavery. Dozens of protesters descended on the couple as they exited the museum. Along the way, a native bow was placed in the king’s hands.
A tricky moment came when Máxima had to walk around the car to her side. The Dutch and South African security guards had to push the protesters aside at that moment. The queen was then pulled through the crowd by security guards.
The atmosphere was initially friendly, but that gradually changed. The demonstrators were identified as being Khoisan, the indigenous people of South Africa. In addition to Willem-Alexander’s apologies for the Dutch past history of slavery, they also want to see action, they said. At the beginning of the visit, the couple spoke with the demonstrators outside when there were only a few of them.
The royal couple spent quite some speaking with those present. The atmosphere was positive at that moment; people spoke with each other seriously, but also laughed together. The demonstrators wanted to know from the royal couple when action will be taken, now that an apology has been issued. After the conversation, the royal couple invited some of the demonstrators to join them when they entered the museum.
But outside, the crowd soon swelled to over a hundred, many of whom expressed anger in front of the doors of the slavery museum. As a precaution, the gates to the museum were closed. The security guards stationed at the doors were booed, especially the guards who are South African.
The demonstrators questioned how the guards could put on a nice suit and “join” the Dutch. A museum employee tried to calm the situation, saying that the royal couple learned more about “the terrible history” inside, but the fuss only grew.
Protest signs were waved, and people also sang songs. The signs contained texts, like, “You are stealing our culture,” “We were the first,” “We want compensation,” and “You are forgetting us.”
On July 1, the king apologized on behalf of the Netherlands for the Dutch history of slavery during a speach in Amsterdam. “Today I stand before you. Today, as your King and as a member of the government, I make this apology myself. And I feel the weight of the words in my heart and my soul,” Willem-Alexander said during Keti Koti, the national commemoration for the end of slavery.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a press statement on Thursday that he acknowledges the king’s apology. “This was an important step towards reconciliation, repair and healing of old wounds.”
Reporting by ANP