The Sulawesian slaves Cornelis Valentine ended up in Enkhuizen in 1725. His life story now forms the basis of the new educational curriculum of the Zwerderzy Museum. Pupils learn not only about the awesome, but also the dark pages of VOC history.
The teaching program officially opened yesterday in the attic of the Peperhuis warehouse, the only remaining VOC building in Enkhuizen. Until recently, it was still a museum storehouse, but now history comes alive. It is also the place where Cornelis Valentine himself has long worked.
His descendants, Jeannette Bass and Jan de Bruyne, handed the Cornelis Purchase Deed to Mayor Edward van Zuylen. “This is the document that he came to Enkhuizen on the appropriate ship in that particular year. The unique thing is that we were able to determine his story, based on all those sources. And these are also the oral stories that are in our family have been passed down, so it turns out to be true”, As De Bruyne says.
He is proud that their ancestral history has now been elevated to the standard of an educational program for children. “We’ve been working on this for at least thirty years, to know the story of Cornelis. That’s of course great.”
bondage of the past
For a long time, the history of VOC was given a one-sided view: the splendor and successes of VOCs were central. In the past few years, public debate about the Golden Age has only further fueled. The Zuiderzee Museum also wants to highlight the positive and negative aspects of VOC, including the story of Jan Pieterszoon Coen.
“Students also learn the other side of the story here. For example, they learn how the Panda people were enslaved and even murdered,” explains Vimke van Drongelen, Head of Education at the Zweidersee Museum. “If you as a slave are owned by someone else and you no longer have any rights of your own, then the students find it very difficult to achieve.”
“You can’t imagine, like Cornelis, that you were traded like a used car”
Mayor Edward van Zuylen asked the students to close their eyes and imagine what it was like in the past. He says, “In my day job, I’m right in the middle of it, because in my private office in Town Hall the owners also depict the enslaved. And they seemed to be very proud of that at the time. Imagine you, just like Cornelis, were traded as a used car, which is what happened.” Unfortunately “.
In Pepper’s loft there are several large chests for ships. Each box represents an outlet from the VOC era, including Batavia, Galle and Panda. At the ports, students meet people from that time, who all tell their story.
Pupils in groups 7 and 8 – from Het Dresban Primary School – were allowed to start the teaching programme. From the nutmeg gratings and table of a 17th century ship to games, as students discover how people were enslaved. The scent of pepper and nutmeg in the pepper loft complements the teaching experience.
“I think it’s a lot of fun. I think it’s fun being a slave to myself, working all the time and getting paid so little. I don’t think it’s good to be taken out of your house like that,” says 11-year-old Tim.
Who was Cornelis Valentige?
At the beginning of the 18th century, Cornelis Valentijn was moved from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to South Africa, an important port center of the VOC. There he worked as slaves in the family home. Until the day the Enkhuizer VOC docks with a blind ship carpenter.
In order to be able to return to Enkhuizen, he purchased the slave “Cupido van Bougis”. Only later is he apparently baptized Cornelis Valentijn in Enkhuizen and ended up there as the personal servant of the then mayor and director of the city’s operations center, Frederic Lakeman. Valentijn works as a night watchman at the VOC shipyard and at the Peperhuis warehouse to later build the life of a free man in Enkhuizen.
The Complete Collection of Stories curriculum is now available to primary schools only. But this is about to change. Femke van Drongelen: “In the coming period it will be further developed for secondary education. We will also consider moments such as the Open Memorial Day, when we can open the attic to the Enkhuizers and other interested parties.”
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