When you tour Amsterdam anytime soon, make it a point to visit Oosterpark and one of its main highlights namely the Slavernijmonument. It is a monumental place unlike any in Amsterdam city, and one with a rich history.
Slavernijmonument or the Nationaal Monument Slavernijverleden in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark pays tribute to the elimination of slavery in Suriname Colony and the Netherlands Antilles on July 01, 1863. This monument featuring crisscrossing trees and three portions was designed by Surinamese Sculptor Erwin de Vries and was launched in 2002 by Queen Beatrix.
One portion at the back of the monument depicts a group of slaves tied on a chain, another in the midst of the monument features a person breaking through a figurative wall and freeing himself off the chain, and a woman in the front raising the arms skywards. These three portions of Slavernijmonument stand at a short distance apart and symbolize Dutch freedom and its associated struggle in the 19th Century.
Each year, natives visit this particular place exactly on the occasion of the ‘Keti Koti Festival’ held most of the time on July 01 or its preceding day. The Dutch celebrates Keti Koti Festival in Amsterdam and in other parts of the country, whereas descendants of the enslaved souls pay tribute to them in Suriname and Antilles.
The festival comprises of dance by tribal Dutch, food, and music ceremony all commemorative of the Dutch liberation. Keti Koti refers to ‘break the chains’. Natives gather near the Slavernijmonument in Oosterpark on the festival in order to hear the speeches delivered by prominent Dutchmen including mayors, ministers, authors, and other dignitaries.
Besides the Nationaal Monument Slavernijverleden, Oosterpark is home to paddle boating and hiking among other fun & relaxation activities. Millions of people visit this park in Amsterdam’s eastern side each year. When you visit Oosterpark, it is likely you may come across adults and senior citizens practicing meditation and a Chinese exercise known as ‘Tai Chi’. It also features an outdoor bandstand, a platform for the performers to entertain the visitors.
All said and done, it is quite ironic that a public park such as this is home to a monument that honors Dutch slavery and the ultimate freedom achieved through sheer determination. Make it a part of your tour itinerary so that you can tour Amsterdam to the fullest.