Keti Koti Festival 2014Festivals / Amsterdam
01 July 2014, 11am - 9pm
Each year, the Keti Koti Festival takes a moment to remember the dark history of slavery in the former Dutch colony of Suriname and to commemorate its end through a cultural festival.
Keti Koti and "cut chains"
The festival is named after the phrase "keti koti," which in Sranan Tongo (a creole language spoken in Suriname) means "the chains are cut."
The cutting of chains has come to symbolise the end of slavery in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles that took place on July 1, 1863.
Since this time, many people with Afro-Surinamese backgrounds have moved to or have been born in the Netherlands.
Recognising the importance in confronting and commemorating the darker side of colonial relations, NiNsee (Nationaal Instituut Nederlands Slavernijverleden en Erfenis) and the National Monument to the History of Slavery (Nationaal Monument Slavernijverleden) were created along with the idea for the Keti Koti Festival.
Taking place each year on July 1 in the Oosterpark (where the monument is located), the ceremonies of Keti Koti look to remind the current generation of Dutch society of the painful history of slavery.
More than just a remembrance, Keti Koti also emphasises the importance of modern-day freedom and tolerance by hosting a celebratory day in which Surinamese cultural traditions are the focus.
Keti Koti programme
The Keti Koti Festival programme always begins with a parade from Waterlooplein to the Oosterpark called the Bigi Spikri consisting of participants playing traditional music and wearing classic Surinamese dress.
Once in the Oosterpark, there is a remembrance ceremony at the monument after which the festive portion of the day begins.
This takes place over four main podia:
› Kas Di Kabra. A tent that is a spiritual space with traditional rituals and dances being performed.
› Boni Tula Oso. This podium is reserved for spoken word artists and singer-songwriters.
› A children's podium. Kids and their parents gather around to hear folk tales and legends from the Afro-Caribbean world.
› Main podium. The centre of the Keti Koti Festival, this is where major music acts, theatre performances and speeches are held.
Outside of the podia, there is also a featured exhibition which addresses the entwined histories of Suriname and the Netherlands.
In addition to the programming, there is also a Caribbean market and flavourful Surinamese and Antillean food for sale.
› Click here to see the full programme.