Welfare King

Herman van Bergen

Herman van Bergen

Iron barricades, piss odored alleys being scrubbed clean, showcases decorated with orange ribbons, dope fiends, pushers and winos normally reigning in the streets of Otrobanda have wilfully been subdued for a day. This is all part of a scheme to simulate a fatamorganic street scenery for the visit of the new youngblood king Willem-Alexander through one of Curacao’s most historic neighbourhoods during his first time stay as head of state being the bloodline successor of his mother Beatrix, the former queen of the Netherlands who stepped down after thirty-three years.

The euforia that Dutch and local mainstream media speaks of is not registered through the eyes of one of the many old pensioned ladies selling national lottery tickets: “My humble analysis connects the regional money dots and an island that can serve as a commercialized mattress, the new generation would call it an economic hub but its all the same. The Dutch need that emerging Latino market investment money and with king Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima having excellent high ‘telenovela’ potential to open the South American gateway for Dutch-European prosperity, hence a new adventure towards the second coming of the much longed for Golden Century has officially begun.”

While the Dominican and Colombian Diaspora and fashionista citizenry is anxious to see Maxima, how elegant her hairdo, dress and heels will be they throng the streets where groupies gathered behind the Dutch paparazzi to catch a glimpse of the royal glamour. Others just have that last drop of hope to witness their compatriots reinvent their submissive identity into living monuments of resistance, going against the sociopolitical grain of modern Caribbean neo-colonial life. Reversing the problematic educational conditioning of kids to look upon to the royal couple as a white saviour god and goddess, making the youth and average adult citizen to burst that Dutchified bubble they live in.

King Willem-Alexander’s great-grandmother queen Wilhelmina, grandmother queen Juliana and mother Beatrix contributed considerably to the underdeveloped state that Curacao was in their times and still continues to be. Just like his predecessors he is a monarch, ill-prepared, without any knowledge at all how to deal with a nation predominantly of African descent with a shared legacy of Dutch slavery and colonial oppression.

Author of the forthcoming book ‘A Cult of Colonialism, Black Souls Worshipping Dutch Royalty in the 21st century: professor Nita Magnus explains that `2014 will mark the bicentenary anniversary of the Dutch kingdom, a space of sabotaged emancipation where monarchs failed to properly address and repair the racial inequalities dating from the days of slavery and colonialism and have wilfully forsaken to implement a decolonization policy. But due to the lack of national awareness of colonial crimes committed against Afro-Curacaoans there is no call for a politics of reparation yet. This callousness from our side will change in due time as the 15 members of CARICOM are already mobilizing to take their ex-colonizers Britain, France and the Netherlands to court for dehumanizing and economically exploiting these Caribbean countries during the period of enslavement.`

The shadow mayor of Otrobanda Jopi Igra, a retired school teacher reminisces of times when he blindly revered the previous Dutch royal couple Beatrix and Claus but regretfully admits that after three decades their royal reign only brought downpours of deceptions for Curacao. “I now pledge my allegiances to the current upsurge of independence movements. The king is not dead to me but he’s an innocent babyfaced figurehead of a colonial power that never ever gave a damn about us.
The days when these royalties fly over, wave, pop a smile, say two or three words in Papiamentu, get their picture taken with cute little kids and the crowd goes crazy are definitely over. New horizons starting to glow, we have been bamboozled by the crown much too long of our lives.`

Meanwhile in Lelienberg, nobody singing that spiritual Dutch colonized anthem ‘All hail the king’. People just got better things to do. Banda Bou has always been the orphan, last to get connected to the water and electricity supply grid, ferocious battles to get schools built here. And so much more for a community to stand out and get to new heights of development. `Might as well start a political fight to become a republic, right? The republic of Banda Bou how that sound Chincho, mi yave? The middle aged man in the corner of the snack-bar after sipping from his Kadushi cognac glass responds with a raspy Soto voice: `Machu, the only queen or king I’ve seen all these years that could be trusted wholeheartedly and risk their life for us is nobody else than Jesus,…Black Jesus that is.`

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