This month we celebrate black history month in three European countries: The UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.
If you haven’t already read our articles on BHM in the UK and Ireland then be sure to check those out. And now let’s take a look at how the Dutch celebrate Black History Month!
History of BAM in the Netherlands
The Netherlands celebrates black history in October in what is known as ‘Black Achievement Month’ (BAM).
The initiative was first established in 2015 by the Dutch artistic director and former John Leerdam in collaboration with the Dutch National Institute for the History of Slavery and Heritage.
Since then, BAM has become a nation-wide, annual event in which the Netherlands shine a spotlight on black talent and black history from around the world.
Every year there are a range of events hosted across the Netherlands, showcasing black and Afro-descendant communities.
Dutch & the Transatlantic slave trade
The Dutch were major participants in the Transatlantic slave trade. From the 17-19th centuries, they were responsible for trafficking over half a million Africans.
The Dutch trafficked Africans to Northern Brazil, and Spanish colonies in Latin America as well as Suriname, Guyana and the colonially-named ‘Gold Coast’ in Africa which we know today as Ghana.
The Golden Carriage
To this day the Dutch Royal family owns & uses a Golden carriage which was originally given as a gift from Amsterdam to the monarch Queen Wilhelmina in 1898.
The Dutch recruited Africans to fight in their colonial wars. They enlisted over 3,000 African Ashanti & Akan soldiers to fight as colonial troops in their army from 1831 to 1872.
Rembrandt & the African diaspora
From the 17th century onwards, there is a noticeable Black presence in Dutch paintings reflecting the migration of African people to the Netherlands.
One of the most famous Dutch traditions is the controversial December tradition Zwarte Piet, a character often depicted as the dark-skinned companion of Sinterklaas, based on St Nicholas.
want to learn more about being black in the netherlands?
head over to travel noire to learn more!