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Winternachten literary festival and the art of decolonization

Linawati Sidarto

The Jakarta Post

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The Hague  /  Sun, February 2, 2020  /  03:53 pm
Winternachten literary festival and the art of decolonization

Reading session: Angelina Enny (right) and Robin Block read from their book of poetry on the podium at Theater Aan Het Spui in The Hague on Jan. 18. (Writers Unlimited/Serge Ligtenberg)

Former Dutch colonies are the focus at Winternachten in The Hague, one of the Netherlands’ biggest literary festivals. “Again, your excellency, we are in 1939, and just as your parliament expressed expectations that it would take at least another century before Indonesians are ready for independence, I am also voicing my expectations that before the end of the next decade, and most likely after a regrettably bloody independence struggle, I will be sitting at the same table with your Queen to discuss the independence of my country and my people.” This imaginary letter from Mohammad Hatta, who at the time was jailed in Banda Naira and later became Indonesia’s first vice president, to then-Dutch prime minister Henrikus Colijn, was penned by Dutch author Reggie Baay. He and eight other writers — all with roots in Indonesia, South Africa, the Dutch Antil...