The Black Dutchmen are the desendents of 3,000 West African men who were sent by the Dutch colonialist to fight in their colonial war in Indonesia. Black men forced to the other side of the world to fight a white man’s war against another group of black men.
They were given Dutch nationality, Dutch names, and many of the privileges of the colonial masters. The largest contingent is believed to have been recruited at slave markets in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom in what is now Ghana. Many of these men chose to settle in Central Java, and took native wives. Their sons continued to serve in the colonial army until Indonesia’s independence.
After independence of Indonesia many of the men and their families traveled to the Netherlands. One of the few descendants still living in Netherlands, Joyce Cordus, whose father Dan Cordu is one of the oldest living of those who came from Indonesia, is beginning to put together the history of her ancestors.