Alliance calls for attention to unseen and neglected cultural heritage during royal visit to St. Eustatius

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service
Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima

The following statement was issued by the St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance:

On Wednesday, February 8, the royal family will be given a tour through the historic core of Oranjestad in St. Eustatius, as can be read on the website of the royal family. During this walk the slavery past will be discussed, and a manifestation in Fort Oranje dedicated to the cultural heritage of Sint Eustatius will close the day, so we read.

We all know how during royal visits everything gets polished, even the truth. That is why the St. Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance asks the royal family to look further. Not to the beautiful buildings and monuments in the historic core, not to the memorials of De Graaff, Peter Stuyvesant, the First Salute, and their (great) grandmother Wilhelmina.

But let them see the suffering, the tears and the blood of our ancestors who built the fortresses, the buildings, the walls by hand, brick by brick. Let them see the unmarked burial grounds Golden Rock and Godet where the remains of our ancestors were brutally excavated and have been stored in a depot for over a year now, tucked away like garbage.

Let them see the Waterfort, in a deplorable state, threatened by erosion, where our ancestors, kidnapped from the Motherland, after the Middle passage were packed together to be sold on the market. More than 44,000 Afrikans including 10,000 (!) children set foot on Statia and suffered this fate. This Afrikan cultural heritage is all unseen and neglected.

So let’s talk to each other about how we can preserve this heritage, the Waterfort, the Afrikan burial grounds, the slave walls for the St. Eustatius community and the wider Afrikan diaspora and preserve it for future generations.

160 years after the abolition of slavery, reluctantly approved by King William III, let’s now restore the Waterfort, mark the burial grounds, honor our ancestors, teach our children that there was also a time before slavery with black Pharaohs, black Kings and black Queens who ruled in Afrikan countries for centuries until their civilization was destructed by colonial powers.

Let the royal visit be meaningful and with lasting impact to protect our Afrikan heritage and the indigenous heritage of St. Eustatius. Hopefully the royal family won’t be dazzled by good looking entertainment. Those days are over. We should honor our ancestors and not colonial memorials and former colonial rulers nor should we perform shows for them.

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