Keti Koti officially sounds like Dag der Vrijheden, which is Dutch for Freedom Day. Every year July 1st is Emancipation Day in Suriname. Interestingly, emancipation in the former Caribbean colonies of Europe and in some areas of the United States means the liberation of slaves of African origin.
Keti Koti commemorates the day when slavery was abolished in Suriname in 1863. However, enslaved people could not get full freedom until 1873, because they were required to work on plantations for 10 years. This 10-year period was called the transitional period, during which labor was paid minimally, and state-legalized force was applied to former slaves. For example, if a black person was found on the street without a pass, then he they were threatened with imprisonment.
Most of the slaves left the plantations after 1873, where they and their ancestors had worked for generations, and settled in Paramaribo. For 32,911 people held as slaves in Suriname, slave owners received £9,867,780 in compensation. For 2020, this amount is equivalent to 250,000,000 euros.
Since 2009, various events have been held in a number of Dutch cities that have changed the status of July 1 – it has become a national Dutch holiday and a day of remembrance. The official monument to slavery in 2002 was installed in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, called Slavernijgeschiedenis, which means ‘history of slavery’. The Keti Koti holiday in the Netherlands Antilles has been celebrated as the day for the abolition of slavery since 1863 and is accompanied by a festival.
National Abolition Day Keti Koti has some interesting facts:
- 2013 was the 150th anniversary, in honor of which a monument was erected at Lloyd Pier in Rotterdam, which was previously a stronghold of slavery;
- Keti Koti means ‘chain broken’ in Surinamese;
- On the morning of July 1, 1863, in honor of the abolition of slavery, a volley of 21 guns was fired from Fort Zeeland in Paramaribo.
How to take part
Keti Koti is a celebration of dance and pure fun in p[laces like St. Martin, St. Eustatius and Suriname. On this day, city dwellers dressed in beautiful traditional costumes sing songs, dance, drink, and eat during the festival.
When is Keti Koti celebrated in 2023?
Keti Koti is observed on July 1 each year.