Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blogging Break & first black minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet

I am going to take a blogging break, but it doesn't mean no news will be posted. Sibo is also blogging. But before the break I am going to post some information of an old exhibition of the Dutch Rijksmuseum in 2009.

The highlight of the exhibition was the earliest known photograph from Surinam of a young married couple in 1846. (The picture on the right is their son, the only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet. He also became a Vice Admiral.)

This photo, a so-called daguerreotype, depicts Maria Louisa de Hart, the daughter of a mulatto female slave whose freedom had been purchased, and the Jewish plantation owner Mozes-Meijer de Hart. Her husband was Johannes Ellis, the son of Abraham de Veer, who was a Dutchman and the governor of Elmina in what is now Ghana, and the Ghanaian Fanny Ellis. Their son, Abraham George Ellis (1846-1916) was the first and only Surinamese minister to serve in a Dutch cabinet (1902-1905, Minister of the Navy). Until now, it was not known that any pre-1860 photographs from Surinam existed.

The photo of the young married couple is not exactly a celebration of black Surinamese history. Slavery was abolished in 1863, so this photo of the rich couple was taken during that time.

In 1860 Abraham left Suriname with his parents and four younger sisters and moved to Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His Father had already amassed enough capital to retire at the age of 48, and the family settled at the posh Herengracht in Amsterdam. His father later returned to Suriname.

Ellis is problably the first black minister and Vice admiral in a Western country.


  1. I was going to ask how integrated are Surinamese and descendants of slaves in the Netherlands today?

    I'm guessing not too integrated to have only one cabinet minister... am I wrong?

  2. Truth2011, I don't think the number of cabinet members is a measurement for integration. Colin Powell was the first black secretary of State in 2001 and his parents were Jamaican. Does that say anything about the integration of Jamaicans in the US, or the representation of African Americans in politics?

    But if I compare the black community in the UK with the black community in The Netherlands I think the Black Britons are doing better.

  3. Colin Powell's appointment DOES represent black American integration into America. A) Colin Powell is a black American, most importantly. B) To a lot of whites, there is no difference between black Jamaicans and black Americans. To Bush Sr., who appointed Powell,, Powell's Jamaican roots were identical to black Americans' (if he ever thought about it to begin with).

    I'm trying to think of African politicians in the UK. I can only think of that Uncle Tom David Lammy. That's not hardly representative or praiseworthy. Even before Obama, we have a black governor of the richest state in America (Deval Patrick of Massachusetts) and a black governor in the biggest state (David Patterson of New York).

    Even before Obama's election, the two most popular politicians in America were black Americans: Barack Obama and Condolezza Rice.

  4. I believe it's a little like comparing apples, persimmons and kumquats to compare the "progress" of people of color in any predominantly white country simply based on the number of black people in (elected) political office without also being conscious of the percentage of black people in those countries.

    In the USA you have a black population of between 11% and 13 %. Because of clustering patterns - in D.C., Detroit, Atlanta, to name just a few urban locations - they can make up a (much) higher percentage of the local population in certain areas.

    In European countries you are talking about a much lower percentage of black people within the overall population; e.g. UK = 2,9% and NL = 2,8%. And those are two of the countries with the largest black populations.

  5. @uncagedbirds

    all 3 nations have on average 9 to 10% of black people.This is low indeed. But visual representation on the national platform serves as the most visible barometer of integration.

    Brasil's black population make up 51% of the nation's inh.I'm talking about 88 millions of black people. How many visible black faces ? I'm sure not even close to 80.That's less than one black person per million/inh. This is really weird.And over there people deny racism is the cause of this disparity.

    America has roughly 13% of blacks. Even if 50 k were visible it would still be extremly low.

    To sum it up.I think neither the US nor the EU fare well when it comes to intergrate its minorities.


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