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Dutch slave trade comes to life in new novel

Gouden-Handel
AMSTERDAM–The roles of the former Dutch colonies Curaçao and Suriname and the motherland The Netherlands in the slave trade in the 17th and 18th centuries come to life in the new novel Golden Trade, Novel on Slavery (Gouden Handel, Roman over de Slavernij) by Kees Uittenhout, which will be presented next month.

Inspired by Odet Sleeswijk of Curaçao/Surinamese de scent, Uittenhout describes this period in three storylines in a romanticized approach, in its colonial cruelty, doing justice to the spirit of the times and history, publishing company Conserve stated in a press release.

Together with Sleeswijk, the author will present the first copy of his book on November 21 to well- known Surinamese author Cynthia McLeod, who has written several books on slavery history in Middelburg. The cover of the book features an image of the Golden Carriage that Queen Beatrix uses to ride to Ridderzaal in The Hague where she reads the Throne’s Speech on Budget Day, the third Tuesday in September. The image depicts a scene from the time of slavery.

The 500-page book centers on three main persons: Lucas Geluck of Middel- burg in The Netherlands, Shala Bachogu of Angola and Mijntje Hadewyn of Suriname, who at one point meet each other in the story.

Lucas Geluck lives with his parents and sister in an alley close to the Middel burg harbour. He loses his family in a house fire and is taken to an orphanage by a ship surgeon who promises that he will take Lucas as his assistant on the ship Het Pleyzier after three years.

Shala Bachogu lives in an awi in Angola. An Ashanti commando abducts all parents and youngsters as slaves and leaves behind the children who are of no use to them. Shala ends up at a mission post where he meets Lucas. As friends they leave for Suriname on a slave ship, but arrive as enemies.

Mijntje Hadeweyn, daughter of a sugar plantation owner, grew up with the young female slave Amada as nanny and the elderly slave Bruno as friend and storyteller. The plantation has 80 slaves and for Mijntje there is nothing strange about this. Later, while working as a nurse in a field hospital, she meets Lucas.

The Netherlands was active in the Atlantic slave trade and sold and transported more than 500,000 slaves from Africa to Brazil, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles over the years. The Netherlands had a four per cent share in the total slave trade. Together the then European superpowers Portugal, Spain, France, Great Britain and The Netherlands sold and transported about 12.5 million slaves.