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Last January, I got myself a re-print of this rather unique collection of our children’s learning books, Wij en de Wereld. They are the ones my friends and I of all color and races in one country, grew up with. Especially written for us back then, school kids in Suriname, in our native Dutch, by our own. During swim training I remember the author being in the same swimming lane, he was a veteran swimmer then. I never knew he was the key-writer of our books.

Wij en de Wereld, translates to “We/Us and the World”, well-adapted to our local situation, and I am looking at these texts in awe currently: was I really able to read that as a child? And, back then, I did not blink once at the dark people in the pictures. When I opened it last week, I blinked. Apparently, as an adult in Europe, I have become more self-conscious of (the power of) ones color. Apparently as well, the idea has been instilled within that it is rather uncommon to be literate, even double-academic being of color. When did that happen? Jeez!

I remember now, browsing through the books, both were no issue growing up. I didn’t even notice color back then, no awareness whatsoever. And we grew up proud back then, no reason for doubting our abilities. It seems our books were way ahead of time, in many ways. As opposed to life today on this side of the Ocean. Or have we lapsed backwards?

Wij en de Wereld