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Introduction

The history of the Black Dutchmen, African soldiers who were recruited between 1831 and 1872 for the Dutch army in the colony of the Dutch Indies, has been hidden for many years. Thanks to recent book publications, a traveling exhibition and media exposure, a growing audience is getting acquainted with this chapter of the African diaspora.

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The Indo-African foundation was launched in 2002 with the purpose of preserving and promoting the history of the circa 3,000 African soldiers, who were recruited in the Gold Coast region: present day Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Ivory Coast and Benin. After their tour of duty in the Dutch Indies, many of them returned to the harbour city of Elmina, Ghana where their retirement pensions were paid.

Circa 500 ‘belanda hitam’ (the Indonesian term for ‘black Dutchmen’) chose to stay in the colony with their indigenous Indonesian wives and Indo-African descendants. After the Second World War, many Indo-African families were forced to leave the new republic of Indonesia and moved to The Netherlands. From there, several families emigrated to Brazil, the US, Canada and Australia.