Leiden International Studies Blog

Why we need a statue of Anton de Kom in The Hague Anton de Kom by Jikke van Loon, 2006. Statue in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost.

Why we need a statue of Anton de Kom in The Hague

Have you heard of Anton de Kom? Do you know why there is a monument of him in Amsterdam? If this name does not ring a bell for you, keep on reading (and also do if it does!).

Anton de Kom was born in Suriname, a Dutch colony at the time, and became an anti-slavery as well as anti-colonialism activist. He spent a significant part of his life working and writing in The Hague. The work that he is most known for today is his book ‘We Slaves of Suriname’ (Wij slaven van Suriname), in which he details the history of slavery in Suriname, the precarious labor conditions in his own time, and his experiences with inequality in the Dutch colony. Because of his anti-fascist thought and impact as resistance fighter, he was captured by the Nazis during the Second World War, and died in the concentration camp of Neuengamme, close to Hamburg, Germany. What has stayed with us is his inspiring and critical thought on colonial dynamics and the need for a strong liberation movement across the world.

For us students (and staff!) of BA International Studies, Anton de Kom represents an exemplary persona for why we study the fields we do. De Kom’s identity and life’s work connects different world regions and sheds a light on the dependency and dynamics between Latin American history, Dutch politics, and the significance of African diasporic culture. With the BASIS Africa Committee, we have hosted a guest lecture (which you may rewatch here) with Dr. Anne Marieke van der Wal-Rémy and Dr. Karwan Fatah-Black, precisely to bring more awareness to the significant personality that Anton de Kom was, and should still be remembered for. As students living and studying in the same city as he did, we wish to honour his legacy in anti- and post-colonial thought.

This is why we started the initiative to erect a statue of Anton de Kom in The Hague, the city in which he lived and inspired so many, in late February of this year. We believe that it is crucial for our city’s architectural landscape to acknowledge, represent, and remember heroes such as de Kom in order to truly showcase the history and diversity of The Hague. You can visit our initiative’s website here (Stichting Standbeeld Anton de Kom in Den Haag).

Please support our cause by signing the petition (here!) and letting your friends know about it as well. If you would like to raise awareness for our cause, we’re happy if you use your further networks (Social Media, LinkedIn, etc.) to share the petition and our website. In the future, if you have some amount to spare, we will also happily receive donations to fund the statue, which we hope to one day see in Bezuidenhout, Den Haag.