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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Beeckestijn ~ voyages from Suriname to Caribbean !!

Seoul Olympics 1988 is fresh in memory.  The games were boycotted by North Korea and its ally, Cuba. Ethiopia, Albania and the Seychelles did not respond to the invitations sent by the IOC. Nicaragua &  Madagascar did not participate because  of financial reasons. In its final Olympics, the Soviet Union utterly dominated the medal table winning 55 gold and 132 total medals. No country came close to this result after 1988.

Soviet Vladimir Artemov won four gold medals in gymnastics. Daniela Silivaş of Romania won three and equalled compatriot Nadia Comăneci's record of seven Perfect 10s in one Olympic Games. Tennis returned to the Olympics after a 64-year absence, and Steffi Graf added to her four Grand Slam victories in the year by also winning the Olympic title, beating Sabatini in the final.   U.S. sprinter Florence Griffith Joyner set an Olympic record (10.62) in the 100-metre dash and a still-standing world record (21.34) in the 200-metre dash to capture gold medals in both events. To these medals, she added a gold in the 4×100 relay and a silver in the 4×400. Canadian Ben Johnson won the 100 m final with a new world record, but was disqualified after he tested positive for stanozolol.  There is another name that was flashed in the media !!

                                  Anthony Conrad Nesty made the name of his country Surinam known to everyone.  He made a big upset defeating Matt Biondi in the    100-metre butterfly event in 1988, by one one-hundredth of a second.

The Beeckestijn was a ship working out of Amsterdam, Netherlands transporting slaves. She is depicted in front of the Dutch West India Company warehouses in the Prins Hendrikkade docks by the engraver Hendrik de Leth.  The Beeckestijn was owned by the Dutch West India Company. She made seven voyages from the African west coast to Suriname and St Eustatius in South America and the Caribbean between 1722 and 1736.

The first Europeans who came to Suriname were Spanish explorers and Dutch traders who visited the area along with other parts of South America's 'Wild Coast.' The first attempts to settle the area by Europeans was in 1630, when English settlers led by Captain Marshall attempted to found a colony. They cultivated crops of tobacco, but the venture failed financially. In 1650, Lord Willoughby, the governor of Barbados, furnished out a vessel to settle a colony in Suriname. At his own cost he equipped a ship of 20 guns, and two smaller vessels with things necessary for the support of the plantation. The settlement was invaded by seven Dutch ships (from the Zeeland region), led by Abraham Crijnssen, in 1667.  It was changing hands between Dutch, British and more.

In South America, slavery was the norm. The native people proved to be in limited supply and consequently the Atlantic slave trade supplied the workforce for the plantations. The plantations were producing sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton which were exported for the Amsterdam market. In 1713 for instance most of the work on the 200 plantations was done by 13,000 African slaves. Their treatment was horrific, and slaves periodically escaped to the jungle from the start. The only known contemporaneous drawing of a Dutch West India Company slave ship from the early 1700s in which more than 1,000 people died has been identified and is being exhibited as part of a wider attempt by the city of Amsterdam to reckon with its past.

The Beeckestijn transported about 4,600 slaves from the African west coast to the Dutch colonies of Suriname and St Eustatius over seven voyages to South America and the Caribbean between 1722 and 1736. At least 1,000 slaves died on board. Records show that the mortality rate for the enslaved men, women and children transported on the Beeckestijn was as high as a third during some of the ship’s long and arduous transatlantic voyages.

The drawing is part of the Amsterdammers and Slavery exhibition being staged at the city archives to mark the 157th anniversary of the end of slavery in the colonies of Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. Abolition, after 200 years of the trade, was announced on 1 July 1863. The print of the Beeckestijn in the Prins Hendrikkade docks, drawn by the draftsman Hendrik de Leth, is well-known and is part of a number of collections. But the fact that the Beeckestijn was a slave ship had not been recognised until the recent discovery of the vessel’s records by historian Mark Ponte, who is curating the archive’s exhibition. The Dutch West India Company had a monopoly on trade in the Dutch West Indies and was also given jurisdiction over the Atlantic slave trade by the then Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

 A cohort of 615 slaves was bought from northern Congo on 29 April and the ship arrived with them to disembark at the Caribbean island colony of St Eustatius almost a year later on 3 April 1722. The records show that only 560 of 615 survived the journey to work on the plantations. The ship then set sail for the Netherlands on 6 August. The ship’s most murderous journey, however, came after the ship left Texel for Elmina, a port on the coast of what is now Ghana on 15 April 1730. The vessel, then captained by Andries Graan, picked up 753 slaves from the west African port before leaving for Suriname on 18 February 1731. When it arrived at the Dutch colony on 12 July of that year, just 513 disembarked – a mortality rate of 31%.

The exhibition about Amsterdam’s deep links with the slave trade will also feature the stories of 13 characters who were involved, including those who profited and those who were sold as property.

Sad remnants of the past where humans treated fellow humans so badly but these countries wrote history books for others on humanity and culture.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
Pic and article excerpted from The Guardian UK.

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