"The Dutch did not come to Maluku to exchange marbles"
Interview Erno Pickee comes with a graphic novel about the VOC in the Maluku.
- Leontien van Engelen
Erno Pickee divides his time in daily life between teaching at InHolland University of Applied Sciences and doing business. For years he has studied the history of the Moluccas, especially the influence of the VOC on Maluku.
It results in a graphic novel, consisting of three parts. The first volume, Molo Uku, will be published in mid-December.
Pickee - born in 1976 - has a Moluccan mother and a Dutch father. Until he was a teenager, he was a "normal Dutch boy," he says. Like almost every child, he received history lessons at school where the VOC was also discussed. Those stories filled young Erno with pride. "That we as the Netherlands had such a dominant position in the Golden Age, showed so much entrepreneurship, I thought it was awesome."
Until the moment he obtained his HAVO diploma in 1993 and was taken into the pub by his cousins. "I went in with my cousins, and walked out with my brothers." Because the conversations he has with his cousins there, he suddenly becomes very aware of his Moluccan roots. “I wanted to know everything about the history of the Maluku. But then you not only hear the beautiful things, but also the downside of it. ” Pickee learns that during the VOC era, the Dutch did a lot of wreaked havoc in Maluku.
He immerses himself more and more in his origins and in 1997 he goes with his brother to Maluku where many family still live. In 1999 a kind of civil war started there. There are many deaths and Erno wants to see how he can lend a helping hand there.
“In 2000 or 2001 I managed to get in touch with the then minister Roger van Boxtel, in charge of urban and integration policy. I wanted to convince him that the Dutch government had to intervene in that conflict in which many people had already been killed. It does not work. It wasn't until much later that I realized that there is a battle raging within myself, who am I really? What is my identity? Am I Moluccan, am I Dutch? I thought that "we" as the Netherlands should intervene there because "my" Moluccan family suffered from that battle. "
This quest for who he is takes a turn for the worse in 2009, with the birth of his son. His world is changing, he says. “I looked at my son and knew you're going to look to me as your example. What kind of example do I want to be? "At least I wanted him to always follow his heart. From that moment on I started doing that too. ” He ditches his marketing and sales career and goes to the front of the classroom. Yet he continues to search for his own identity. An event during one of his classes opens his eyes: he asks in class who would sell cigarettes to four-year-olds for an annual salary of 70,000 euros a year. There is little response to that. Until he increases the fictitious salary to 500,000 euros. "Then suddenly a large part of the class got up!"
He is baffled. “Apparently they didn't understand that you sell your soul that way. And that made me click again with the VOC era. We did this at the time, all kinds of terrible things happened, but the Netherlands actually knows nothing about it. And how am I supposed to teach my students which way to go if we don't even know the wrongs of our own past? What I want is for important lessons to be learned from our past. And that together we can turn that page and focus on things that are currently going on. ”
He deliberately kept all the names of those involved fictional, he says. He explains a number of events from the 350 years that the Netherlands has been in the Moluccas in his story. “What I really want is for the story to encourage people to look up more about this history. That they think "this is intense, I want to know more about this". It would be even better if the Dutch and Moluccans talked about this. "
His search for his identity - often through conversations with his family - yields a story about the VOC era, but from a Moluccan point of view. Ambitious as he is, the first idea is to have it made into a film, but that turns out to be financially unfeasible. Because he keeps seeing the images in his head, he decides to turn it into a graphic novel. “I also wanted to make it transparent. He quotes an English saying: "Tell you and you'll forget; show you and you may remember; involve you and you'll understand. ”
Pickee searches online for an artist and finds Harits, a very talented boy who lives in Jakarta. The contact is via WhatsApp. Pickee directs the story, Harits draws. “Sometimes they are quite intense drawings, which is why it is also a book for 18+. You can clearly see that the Dutchies did not come to Maluku to exchange marbles, they just did a lot of wreaked havoc there. ”
Although the making of the graphic novel - partly due to the distance between writer and draftsman - is sometimes a bit difficult, Pickee is happy that the first part is now almost there. "I want to resolve the conflict that is in me between my Moluccan and Dutch roots."
The graphic novel Molo Uku will be published in mid-December and is in any case available at the Blokker bookshop in Heemstede and at De Vries Van Stockum bookshop in Haarlem. Can also be ordered via https://molouku.com/
Interested in the Dutch text, please go to: https://m.haarlemsdagblad.nl/cnt/DMF20201127_76141137