This book is in some way related to the bestseller by the Dutch writer Arthur Japin, who wrote about two boys from the Gold Coast who stayed at the Dutch royal court in the 19th century. The book was titled ‘black with a white heart’. Two princes from the royal court of the Ashanti have been invited by the Dutch court to come over and receive an education in The Netherlands. In 1837 they left Kumasi and sailed to the lowlands. On a mural in the famous Dutch palace (now a museum) Het Loo you can see both boys during a royal event.
Now about the present book ‘Black skin, orange heart’. The education of the two princes was part of a deal. The Dutch got permission to recruit people from the Gold Coast to serve in the Dutch militairy in the East Indies. Most servicemen stayed in the East Indies after they had served their time. One of the princes also moved to the East Indies after he had completed his education to be a civil engineer. Many of the militairy men from Gold Coast married local girls in the East Indies. The group that had left the Gold Coast and their many descendants have stayed a close knit community. Many of the descendants also had a militairy career.
A difficult period came when Indonesia gained independence. Many of the descendants of the ‘black Dutch’ decided to travel to the unknown The Netherlands. Others opted to stay in Indonesia. In this book we follow trails in the diaspora. What happened to the descendants of the first Gold Coast people? What are their stories? This intense research has unearthed many beautiful stories and pictures.
Griselda Molemans / Armando Ello – Zwarte huid, Oranje hart. Afrikaanse KNIL-nazaten in de diaspora – Zwolle 2010 – 311 pages