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The Tula Museum at Landhuis Knip

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In the late 18th century, a slave named Tula lived and worked at the Knip Plantation, on the northern tip of the island. Angered by the injustice of his situation, he freed himself and led a revolt across Curaçao. Today, his legacy is remembered in the Tula Museum at the Landhuis Knip.

Tula Museum Landhuis Knip

It’s deeply satisfying that, today, the primary purpose of the Knip Plantation is to pay tribute to a man who was once enslaved here. Sorry Mr. Landowner, I’m sure you considered yourself to be pretty important, and I’m sure that back in the 1700s, you were. But history doesn’t remember your ilk too kindly. There’s nothing to honor you at your former mansion. Instead, it’s dedicated to a man you bought, abused and dehumanized: Tula, the slave who eventually said “enough.”

Inspired by the successful 1791 revolution in Haiti, Tula organized the slaves of the Knip Plantation, then informed the plantation master that they now considered themselves to be free men and women. They marched from Knip to Lagun, freeing more slaves and growing their force along the way. By the time they reached Porto Mari, Tula had a group large enough to be of true concern to the Dutch. And if they weren’t concerned yet, they soon would be. On August 19th, 1975, the Dutch army attacked the rebels and were roundly defeated.

Tula Museum Landhuis Knip

But the rebellion didn’t last much longer than that. Chastened, the Dutch organized a serious response, gave orders to kill any armed slave, and dealt a crushing defeat to the rebels. Tula was among those who escaped, and continued a short-lived guerrilla campaign against the Dutch, until his location was betrayed by a slave. He was captured, and then publicly tortured and executed as an example to any others who might get ideas of independence.

Given the compelling history, the Tula Museum in Landhuis Knip is unfortunately a disappointment. The landhuis is nice, but the exhibits don’t go nearly far enough in telling the story. There are some artifacts and implements from the days of slaving, but not much about Tula nor his revolt. And what little information there is, is only in Dutch. It’s a missed opportunity.

Still, the Tula Museum provides the chance to remember this man who has achieved hero status across Curaçao, and makes for a nice cultural stopover between the nearby beaches of Grote and Kleine Knip. But if you want to learn about Tula, it might be better to hunt down the 2013 film about his struggle, starring Danny Glover.

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Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
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Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
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Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
Tula Museum Landhuis Knip
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January 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm Comments (0)

A Concise History of Curaçao

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Little is known about life on Curaçao prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1499. But since then, it’s been a wild ride for the small Caribbean island. Here’s a short rundown of the major happenings in the history of Curaçao.

2900 BC Hunting tools and implements from the Archaic period are the earliest evidence yet discovered of human life on Curaçao.
1500 BC – 1499 AD The Arawak tribe settle across the Caribbean islands, including Curaçao. Their pottery has been found at sites across the island.
1499 Spaniard Alonso de Ojeda is the first European to discover Curaçao, and promptly subjugates the Arawak people he finds there, drafting them into his labor force and removing them from the island.
1632 Newly independent from Spanish rule, the Netherlands occupy Curaçao, and Willemstad is founded soon thereafter by the Dutch West India Company.
1662 The Dutch get in on the lucrative slave trade, and turn Curaçao into their primary trading center. Tens of thousands of Africans are brought here, to be sold throughout the New World.
1795 Slaves on Curaçao don’t just meekly accept their fate. Years after the first, short-lived Hato Uprising of 1750, up to 1000 slaves follow Tula in a major revolt. It doesn’t end well for the rebels, and after being betrayed by another slave, Tula is publicly tortured and executed.
1800 For years, control of Curaçao alternates between the English and the Dutch, with the former finally taking permanent possession in 1815.
1863 In the same year as Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Netherlands finally abolish slavery in the Antilles. The freed slaves mostly continue to work on their former plantations, but are provided with land of their own, and paid a nominal wage.
1915 The Royal Dutch Shell Company establishes a major presence in Curaçao after the discovery of oil off the coast of Venezuela. Shell becomes by far the island’s largest employer and Curaçao’s fortunes become inextricably linked to the oil industry.
1969 Frustrated by the enduring economic and political inequality between blacks and whites, workers stage a labor strike that swiftly develops into a riot. Two die during the Trinta di Mei, as the riot is known in Papiamento.
Image: nrc.nl
1954 The Netherlands Antilles comes into being as an autonomous country under the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Willemstad is the capital of this collection of Caribbean islands, which also includes Aruba, Bonaire, Saint Maarten, Saba and Sint Eustatius.
2010 Curaçao leaves the Netherlands Antilles, and becomes a country in its own right, although still under the crown of the Netherlands.
2015 and beyond A major Caribbean cruise port, Curaçao has seen its primary economic focus shift from oil to tourism. With pristine nature, a stable economy and political landscape, and a friendly, ethnically-diverse population, Curaçao is looking to the future with optimism as it begins to plot its own course in the world.
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December 23, 2015 at 7:25 pm Comments (0)
The Tula Museum at Landhuis Knip In the late 18th century, a slave named Tula lived and worked at the Knip Plantation, on the northern tip of the island. Angered by the injustice of his situation, he freed himself and led a revolt across Curaçao. Today, his legacy is remembered in the Tula Museum at the Landhuis Knip.
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