Meeting Maartje Duin and Peggy Bouva

June 18, 2021. A small room in the Rijksmuseum during the exhibition on slavery.

I join the aftermath of one of the 3 sessions of Maartje and Peggy. There are other people who are looking for their family past and present from the side of the owners.

Duin produced the award-winning podcast together with her mother, Mrs. Albertine Duin-van Lynden, and Peggy Bouva: The Plantation of Our Ancestors (VPRO).


This told story seems to be a pendant to my written search for my family: The Doorsons. (June 1, 2021, Arbeiderspers). I also met – from Peggy’s point of view – the descendants of our slave owners: the Dessé family in Utrecht, who are mentioned extensively in the book.

Slavery? The Dessé family themselves had no idea what it entailed, and the only thing you could blame them for now is that, like most Dutch people, they enjoy the advantages of an uninhibited view and an untouched world view because of this silenced history. “What are you talking about? Why bother? This all happened so long ago!“

Eveline Sint-Nicolaas, curator of the slavery exhibition, has made a start on the book The Doorsons and she found one sentence important: “That you don’t want to let your guests wander around, but take them by the hand.” She took us by the hand through the exhibition and pointed out the boy:  I thank her for admitting to me that, initially, she failed to notice that little Negro boy in the famous painting. But that was precisely as the artist intended, and so the boy was largely overlooked until this exhibition, 250 years after the start of the slave period.

Jörgen Raymann will also host a number of talk shows in the Rijksmuseum about slavery and its impact, such as the development of the role of women.


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