Keti Koti Rotterdam - celebrating the end of Dutch slavery

Keti Koti Rotterdam - celebrating the end of Dutch slavery

A long, long time ago the Netherlands colonized many countries and was a major player in the slave trade. Since 1993, every year, the abolition of slavery by the Netherlands is observed and celebrated on July 1st.

Keti Koti in Rotterdam

On 1 July, Rotterdam will mark Keti Koti, a day that commemorates the abolition of slavery. The city will host various events that highlight the cultural significance of this historic day. In 2024, Keti Koti celebrations mark 151 years since the abolishment of slavery by the Netherlands.

Keti Koti Festival

The Keti Koti Festival is a significant cultural event in Rotterdam, fostering unity and celebrating freedom. The festival is free and open to all, inviting everyone to participate and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Afro-Caribbean community.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Bigi Spikri parade, which will begin at Oostervant and end at Wijkpark Oude Westen, running from 13:00 to 13:45. The Keti Koti festival starts when the Bigi Spikri procession arrives at the park. The park will host events from 12:00 to 22:00, featuring a cultural market with various Surinamese and Caribbean products. 

At Schouwburgplein, activities will commence at 16:00 and continue until 23:00. Expect live performances by artists such as Omar Ka, Kris Berry, Tabanka, Winne, Ebony Winter, and DJ Menace. For more information on the events and activities, check out Entrance to all events is 100% free.

Keti Koti Festival 2024Keti Koti Festival 2024

What is Keti Koti?

Keti Koti literally means "Breaking the Chains" in Surinamese. Slavery was a fact of life in the former Dutch colonies, including Brazil, Suriname, Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba in the Caribbean, and Indonesia.

The Netherlands officially abolished slavery in the Caribbean on 1st July 1863. This move saw approximately 55,000 slaves in Suriname and the former Dutch Antilles gain their freedom. That same year, slavery was also abolished in the Dutch colony of Indonesia. Today, close to 100,000 of Rotterdam's citizens are descendants of former slaves. 

On (30th June and) 1st July, memorial services and celebrations are held, either officially or unofficially, across the Netherlands.

Keti Koti Rotterdam - celebrating the end of Dutch slaveryKeti Koti Rotterdam - celebrating the end of Dutch slavery


What is the Bigi Spikri march?

On July 1st, 1863, the former slaves of Suriname, having gained their freedom, marched to the centre of the country's capital city of Paramaribo. They were all wearing new clothes and shoes that day. So, upon their arrival in the city, they made use of the shop windows as a means to admire their own reflections. The shop windows served as big mirrors (Bigi Spikri).

This was the very first time that the freed slaves had the opportunity to truly enjoy themselves in freedom. In a parade, together they marched to the churches and meeting places of Paramaribo. The Bigi Spikri parade in Rotterdam aims to relive the proud moment of newfound freedom and the march of that day in 1863. Expect to see proud people in traditional dress.


Location: Wijkpark Oude Westen

Worldwide, it is estimated that 45.8 million people are still living as slaves. This, according to the 2016 global slavery index.

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