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Free to be Free is a performance that includes various languages; Dutch, English, Papiamentu, Sranantongo. We encourage the audience to let go of the idea of understanding every word, and find meaning in the intention of the performance, the movement, images. The poetic texts are in various languages and have not been translated. Please find the translations of the informative and historical text on this page. 


Enjoy the performance and journey through time! 

Wat does freedom mean to you? 




The Walloon Church

Built in 1409. After the Oude Kerk, this church is the oldest church in Amsterdam. Due to the rise of Protestantism, in 1578 a large part of this monastery site came into the hands of the city, which also established the headquarters of the VOC and Oost-Indisch Huis there. This church was made available to French-speaking Protestant refugees from the Southern Netherlands and France and was henceforth called The Walloon Church, the Eglise Wallonne.



The Walloon Church

A graveyard of stories through time

The floor is covered with gravestones, marked with the names of wealthy families. Marked with family crests.


Here is the grave of Sara Chevalier. Born in Paramaribo. Her parents were Huguenots and owners of the plantations Acecibo and La Liberte in Suriname, of which Sara became a shareholder. Sara came to Amsterdam and married trader and banker Jacques Christoph. After his death she continued the trading house. She was a trader. She managed plantations and was involved in the slave trade.



The grave of family Godin is also located here. Paulus Godin lived on the Herengracht, in the current mayor's house. He was co-founder and governor of the WIC, and director of the society of Suriname. He obtained the Asciento de Negros, a WIC contract to deliver enslaved people to Curaçao for shipment to the Spanish colonies in the West Indies. Paulus Godin was an elder and delegate of this church.



The Walloon church, a graveyard of stories through time

The graves, the foundation of this church, was paid for by money obtained through trade, through exploitation. Buried in the house of God, in the house of reconciliation and redemption.



The house of God as a refuge for religious refugees



The house of God, with shares in the WIC



The house of God that invests in international trade, in slave trade



How is it possible? That the cycle of violence continues?



How your ancestors had to flee because of their faith



And found safety in this church, in this city



You know the stories so well

The injustice, the violence by loved ones, by your fellow man



How is it possible that you, in turn, disregard your fellow man?



You don't see them as people but as inferior



Punished because of their faith



Because of the threat you think they pose

because of ignorance, revenge, blind hatred, righteousness



How can it be? That the cycle of violence continues?



Until today.



Until today.



Building sanctimonious churches

In the name of

Building plantations in the east and west

In the name of

With churchgoers' money

The barbarian appoints himself director of a society.


Godin, Goddamn Paulus Goddess 

Convinced that his Wealth

Would be a pearl chain ladder to heaven 

His head too big for his conscience


It's easy 

To trade the names of strangers

When the stench of the ships

Doesn’t burn in your eyes

When you don’t have to throw 

The dead bodies of chained children overboard

Godin, Goddamn Paulus Goddess


This is where you are buried

In a stone bunk bed of your family

Your name continues to rot away

Precisely because of all that wealth

Who we as your God

Have suffered

Godin, GodDamn Paulus Goddess




Amsterdam, a cultural melting pot. People came from different places to this city because of freedom of religion, because of trade opportunities. In the 17th century there was a Black community in this neighborhood. They came as sailors, soldiers, as free men and women.


But many of the Black community were brought to this city against their will, from Asia and Africa as servants, enslaved people by VOC representatives or plantation owners.



This was the case with Christina Adriana van der Gugten from Batavia.

Christina was the daughter of an enslaved woman in Batavia, who had to work in the house of Adrianus van der Gugten and his wife. When they returned to Amsterdam around 1754, they took Christina, barely five years old, with them without her mother.


Around the corner from here is the Spinhuis, there by the gable stone which depicts a person beating a young woman with a whip. Have you ever seen that gable stone?

Christina was imprisoned there for 14 years and had to do forced labor, spinning, because of an "unseemly lifestyle" and constantly running away from home. When paying a fee, you could watch Christina. As a ‘specialty’, you could see this so-called 'swartin' from Batavia spinning.



Christina was named after the person who owned her, his wife and where she was born.

Christina Adriana van der Gugten from Batavia

Batavia, now Jakarta in Indonesia

This name was imposed by her owners. To appropriate her, as property.

But what would her own mother have called her? What name would she have whispered, rubbing her pregnant belly where a little girl was growing?



Amsterdam. The city of a boy named Frans, born in Amsterdam. He was the son of Angolan parents, Domingo Fernandus and Fransisca van Angola, who got married in the Oude Kerk.

Frans was baptized in this church in 1633 at the age of 7

Converted to Christianity

Seen as human 



I speak Dutch, but do not understand the language of the church. The church where you sing loudly about life because you are afraid to die.

The church where the white preacher

Preaches the white word of God

To a white parish


Even though this is all I know and have seen 

I don't feel this is all I know

I can't go anywhere

I can't think alone anywhere

It's hard for me to be anything that I am not

What could I do?

Who would I be?


In the name of the church

In the name of the church

In the name of the church




The VOC courtyard, where men gathered with the hope of working on a VOC ship. Work as a deck boy, as a cleaner, as a sailor. And inside, behind that door, is the VOC room, the place where the board of the VOC, the Heren 17, met around a large table and made decisions about the colonies, about the fate of people in those colonies.


The place where we are now was THE center of colonial power in the 17th century. And this city was the place where ships sailed to Sri Lanka, South Africa, Indonesia, Senegal, Madagascar.



What appears in the mirror when you have no conscience? Who appears in the mirror when you deny history?



Whatever image you tell yourself to see, the mirror will know



How do we overcome the fear of the unknown?



What makes them have something we believe is ours?



How can we nurture this need to make the world bigger without fear of the unknown?


On the first ship

I observe

Red White Blue


They speak with spit under their tongue

Low in their lower jaw

And chop the language together without emotion 



Discover more and more

I'm discovering more and more things that I don't know

I thought I knew about this city

And learn how, in the name of this city, plantations were built in colonies around the world 


I thought I knew about these colonies

And learn how they are connected to other colonies

From France






On the second ship

I observe

Red white blue vertical

On the highest mast from the stern

When they speak a lot of mucus sticks to their lips

Their spit dies in the corners of their mouths

Emotion a rocket of syllables



There is continuous fighting, over land, trade, power, people

How the indigenous people first had to fight the Spanish, negotiate with the Dutch, and establish borders with the French, the Portuguese


Discover more and more

How the slave trade went far beyond the Dutch colonial borders

How people were kidnapped, sold and shipped under the Dutch flag

To Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Curaçao, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil


Discover more and more

How language was used as a weapon

How language was taken away

Had to adapt

How a new language was always imposed

How creole languages ​​emerged from these intertwined conquests



Red yellow red horizontal

On my hostages' third ship

When they speak, spit builds on their tongue

It flies out when the face turns red

Followed by threatening hand gestures

Fingers become knives

Arms become swords



I'm discovering more and more

How racial thinking is designed to put one person above another. Divide and conquer. 

A construct that places white over Asian over Black.

I have been painted white

Learned to see the world through the eyes of a white mother

But my skeleton speaks my father's language, Bahasa, Indonesian

I am double-blooded

Adapted for survival, split by a trade route

Like this building, I feel like a collected collection of knowledge, prosperity, hidden stories, shame in the dark, at the mercy of what the municipality needs

I can be used for any battle

My deepest story has been punched out of me

Like faces cut out of a photograph

My skeleton speaks Bahasa, Indonesian

I am welcoming to everyone, but I don't speak my own language



Red left green right vertical

The fourth ship is a harbor

Run by those spit talkers who want to sell us

Hellish journeys across seas filled with their sins

Hostage in the devil's wooden belly

Seduced by the devil's sweet tone


Baptized by believing barbarians

Who think they can make people out of people

All the colors

On all those masts


Ola kora ku sin bida

Nan Wesu sin tera

Nan wowo sin mama

E luna ta lusa e morto na awa


My journey comes to an end

In a multilingual plan

To set us free

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I have to learn

To listen

To my grandmother's knowledge

How everything moves

I have to learn

To listen

To the legacy around me

That resonates in my heart, in my dancing feet, in my restless hands

Tn my genes

Because the one

Who could tell

Doesn't tell anymore


I hear you, grandma

In the stones, I hear crying

In buildings, I hear mourning

Whispering in the darkness

Stories that are being shared

Stories that are being told

Stories that are being heard



Be quiet!


Don't say so much

Listen more

Listen along

Listen to me



Ground me

Nothing is mine

Ground me

I am grounded here, but a bastard

I put my ear to listen to the ground

Ground me, I belong here


Water try to listen to what I’m saying. 

Because I sometimes say something, that I don’t hear  myself



In the name of the wind

The head can think again

In the name of the sun

Find warmth within ourselves



In the name of borders

Keep finding them

In the name of resistance

We stand up



Or she stays seated on the bus

To stand for herself and others

For those who were not heard, not seen, but carried



In the name of transformation



I continue to immerse myself in the icy water

Until my body can no longer feel

Until I can no longer hear my own thoughts

In the name of listening

In the name of healing

In the name of transformation


And each time, another person is the main character in the story of creation. 

Today it’s you, tomorrow it's somebody else. 


In the name of listening

In the name of healing

In the name of transformation



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