On August 17, 1945, Indonesia declared its independence from The Netherlands. This declaration of independence was met with much difficulty and disagreement from the Dutch rulers. Four years of unrest and diplomatic meetings followed. Finally, in 1949, the Dutch officially recognized the independence of Indonesia.
But it was not until 2005 that the stubborn Dutch accepted August 17 1945, as Indonesia’s official date of independence.
The Indonesian Independence Day is a very important event for of course the Indonesian people, but also for the Dutch and for anyone who sympathizes with Indonesian culture. To me is a very important event, because of my family history and the stories told by my Indonesian church members and so on. As part Dutch and part Indonesian individual, I feel very connected with the stories of those days. More specifically, because my grandparents in Indonesia experienced the war from very close-by. You see, my mother’s father was a Surinamese soldier who fought for the Dutch army in Indonesia. And my mother’s mother was a Javanese lady who fought for the freedom of Indonesia.
Unfortunately their relationship could not withstand the war. I bet my grandfather has experienced horrible things in the war. Black soldiers used to get the most horrific tasks in the war. My mother was therefor raised in an orphanage and rarely saw her parents. When my mother turned 17, anyone and anything that was connected to the Dutch had to leave Indonesia. The last act my grandfather could do for my mom, was to reserve a free ticket to The Netherlands. And then years later, she had me.
Like I said: To me, the Indonesian Independence Day is special. I have never met my Indonesian grandmother nor my Surinamese grandfather. Some say my grandfather died in the boxing ring, years after the war. Others say he died by the hands of the Japanese. My grandmother remarried and apparently had another son, but died years later in a landslide in Sumatra. So, what they have experienced during the war in Indonesia, what my mother has experienced after the war in Indonesia are a part of me too. That’s my family history in a nutshell.