In his childhood, Henk Koobs did not witness entry into Sinterklaas. The fact that Sinterklaas had entered the Staphorst penitentiary is, according to him, due to the efforts of the middle class, which had commercial motives. The 58-year-old head of the Staphorst Historical Society speaks of a “conversation” in town hall in 1964, the year he was born. As the entrepreneurs unveiled their proposal, tensions rose among the council members. A former SGP councilor said the proposal “mockes the sacred principles of reform”.
At the largest primary school in the village, Christelijk Nationale, they pay attention to the Sinterklaas celebration – unlike reform schools. Sinterklaas then comes to visit with his soot sweepers. According to director Dirk Drechler (39), the transition from Zwarte Piet to the soot broom was “without discussion”. During the two years he was principal there, he had never heard complaints from students, their parents, and teachers. “We deliberately didn’t want to hold on to things.”
This Wednesday market seller Bert (64) will sell his wares in the market square at Stavhurst, but he just as easily strikes up conversation with passing villagers. It is also about what happened on the outskirts of the village four days ago. “In the West you celebrate Eid, in the South they have Carnival and here, we do it our way.” He was tired of meddling with the color of Zwarte Piet.
Protesters from the action group Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) and observers from Amnesty International were ambushed at the motorway exit on Saturday by mostly black men, who then threw themselves into vandalism and pelted cars with eggs, paint, petrol and fuel. fireworks. The atmosphere became so gloomy that some of the demonstrators were terrified.
Jan Halls (72), born and raised in Stavhurst, stands in Bert’s booth. “I didn’t go there on purpose. I knew it was going to get out of control.” Burt: “This is even under discussion in the House. what the hell? Zwarte Piet is a tradition here.”
The KOZP working group was under police escort on its way to the market square at Staphorst, where Sinterklaas would arrive with Zwarte Pieten that afternoon. A section of the square was also designated where the demonstrators could protest against Zwarty Piet, known as a racist caricature. It didn’t come to that. The mayor decided to ban the AKP demonstration for fear that the disturbances would spread when going out to the square, where there were many children.
Staphorsters find tradition and culture extremely important
January ten Kate Mayor of Stafford
So far, no rioters have been arrested, despite the police presence in large numbers. On Wednesday, the police announced that the rioters could not be arrested immediately, according to what I wrote De VolkskrantBecause police vans would have been held back by tractors and crow’s feet. The investigation of the perpetrators of the criminal offenses is said to be in full swing since Saturday. On Thursday it was announced that the Justice and Security Inspectorate would investigate the actions of the police.
Of all the conversations that Norwegian Refugee Council With the villagers of (near) Staphorst, the consensus is that what happened at the exit has gone too far. But no one steps into the breach for the sake of the trapped protesters.
“You’ve never heard anyone complain about Sinterklaas in the past,” says Albert, a market visitor who also came to browse Bert’s stall with his wife. The couple complain about the arrival of “more and more foreigners”, which they believe is an explanation for the ongoing social protest against the Zwarte Piet. They don’t celebrate Centerclass themselves. “We don’t have grandchildren.”
There is no black roof to be seen in the market and in the adjacent shopping street. Only one window, the Red Shop window, is decorated in a Sinterclass style. The packages are wrapped in the paper on which the soot cleaning machines are depicted. “It was pure luck, this is how the wrapping paper came with the mail,” explains a saleswoman in a bookstore. Didn’t get any complaints from customers.
“We’re glad the kids didn’t get anything,” says a woman walking with her daughter and granddaughters towards the market square in a double stroller. The women were present at the entry on Saturday, but preferred not to have their names published in the paper. While the girls in the stroller become increasingly anxious, the women say the “fuss” around Zwarte Piet is uncomfortable and unnecessary. They add too many things. Slavery has come back… “Did they let my visitors Peet come home themselves?” No, with Sinterklaas we only give presents.
The Girls in the Stroller’s big sister is on the CNS, so they celebrate Sinterklass with soot wipes. There was no “active” interest in the violence at checkout after the weekend. It’s a show far from our bed,” director Dreschler says. “Of course the children will have said something about that, and there is also room for that, but we haven’t given an effective stage to this specific situation. Our focus is mainly on education.”
Why do anti-racism protesters stir up so much resistance in Stavhurst, when traditionally the Sinterklass celebration is not given much value?
“This situation is very twofold for the community,” says Mayor Jan ten Keet in his office in the town hall. The non-party mayor is assisted by a temporary spokesperson who was hastily flown in after the weekend to cope with the mountain of press requests. “Mostly, people don’t agree with what happened at the exit,” says Teen Kate. “People also find it upsetting to look bad again.”
It refers to the negative image surrounding the reform village of Overijssel, which he believes still lives on in the last century. The picture did not improve during the Corona crisis, when church services continued with hundreds of people while the rest of the country was in lockdown.
He “doesn’t really want to belittle me,” and in no way does he convey the idea that he “advocates” violence, because that “wouldn’t do justice to the AKP and Amnesty.” But according to him, Staphorsters are people who “find tradition and culture very important.” And when “that threatens to disappear, a certain feeling arises.”
As mayor, he was committed to allowing “party and demonstration” to exist side by side. An independent investigation must answer, among other things, the question of whether it was right to cancel the demonstration.
Therefore, the entry has been regulated by the Entrepreneurs’ Association since the 1990s, and “the municipality has to be involved in that,” says Henk Kopps of the Historical Society. And he certainly allows these demonstrators to come to Staphorst, but not on the day of admission or the evening of the package.
Although Coops also disapproves of highway exit violence, he certainly understands its use. “Westerners” should not come and say “us” “what to do”. He understands the Staphorsters’ frustration. According to him, the work group’s name alone evokes a negative reaction: “Expel Zwarte Piet, what an offensive name”.
If you look at the photos of Sinterklaas’ arrival on Saturday, you’ll also see a Pieten with dots on their faces: Stipwerk Pieten. These were introduced at Staphorst two years ago, says Mayor Ten Cate. The dotted work is from the traditional Staphorst costume. He has to stifle laughter when he says the dots have a “black background”. He describes the fact that the dots are now reflected in Pieten’s makeup and clothing as an example of how “tradition and innovation” come together in the village.
A version of this article also appeared in the November 26, 2022 newspaper