This is my sharing in the context of the Legacies of Slavery Hearings held by CWM (Council of World Mission) in London, Accra, Kingston and the US. I was also invited to attend the hearings in Kingston.
What struck me in both, London and Kingston, was that both places have an actual history with each other – from coloniser and colonist, from slave-owner to enslaved and from emancipator to emancipated. It is also the fact that African-American people have especially suffered so much from what is now history. This factual history is comparable to the relationship between the Netherlands and Suriname.
In Jamaica, the conversation took place in the context of the largest colony and sugar producer in the Caribbean. From this point of view, the stories were told about the history of colonisation, the resistance of Africans, the guilt of missionaries, the missed opportunities in the church and the contemporary experiences of Jamaicans, Haitians, Grenadians and Guyana.
The legacy after slavery is still clearly visible and palpable in Jamaica. The fact that so much material and mental wealth has been removed there and never sufficiently compensated is regarded as the most important cause of the backwardness of an individual and their country. Jamaica has literally been plundered and people are mentally deprived of their own African culture, values and norms. This also by the church at that time.
Meanwhile, the church has taken on a very important role in Jamaica. This was clearly visible during our visit to the North Street Congregational Church where a childcare center and a school were connected to it.
A trip to a maroon village gave, as a beautiful contrast, the power of the Jamaican. This maroon village is completely independent of the state and, among other things, arranges this kind of excursions for self-reliance.
At the hearings, one of the recommendations to CWM was that churches need to be more active in the process of achieving racial equality. Although in the Netherlands this point is on the agenda, both secular and in the church, my recommendation would be the same to ‘the church’ in the Netherlands.
Let us (the church in the Netherlands) not only use moments like Keti Koti (abolition of slavery day) and December 5th (Sinterklaas & Black Peet), but also other moments of the ecclesiastical agenda to have a podium for this conversation and also to give a position on this.
Sharing by Bianca Gallant, Netherlands