The Importance of the Keti Koti Dialogue

For only the second time in years, on June 30, 2021, I take part in the solemn feast of Keti Koti, this time around the Golden Coach in the Amsterdam Museum.

If you want to uphold rituals, you must be prepared to accept new variants. Keti Koti is a custom with strong parallels with the feast of Seder, in which Jews all around the world celebrate the liberation from slavery in Egypt. This is combined with the Creole Kabra Tafra, the ritual coming together while offering the ancestors who died in slavery a meal, that is held during the Kabra Neti, the night with the ancestors.

Verbinding maken tijdens de Keti Koti Tafel
Connect during the Kabra Tafra

The lived way of remembering, the Kabra ritual, was reserved for people whose ancestors were slaves. But fortunately a new form has emerged, which was conceived in 2002 by Mercedes Zandwijken and Machiel Keestra. The story, or Á Tori, of the Keti Koti is set down in an accessible booklet written in 2019. This form of fusion is summarized as peanut soup with matzo balls: the slaves ate peanut soup with tomtom (mashed bananas), and the Jews ate matzo balls.


In the booklet, the makers mention the Kra Tafra, the commemoration for all souls, including that of the individual whose Kra, the soul, must be made stronger in order to survive. An important part of Keti Koti is that white and black sit opposite each other and at a certain moment rub each other’s hands with coconut oil. And there is opportunity for exploration and dialogue.


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