Belanda Hitam (Black Dutchmen)

Belanda Hitam (Black Dutchmen, Zwarte Hollanders) were blackmen recruited to serve in the East Indian Army for the Dutch, during the 1800s. After their service, some remained in Indonesia establishing communities in towns such as Purworedjo, Semarang, Salatiga and Solo, on the island of Java.

During the 1800s, the Dutch East Indian Army faced manpower shortages. The Dutch looked towards the Gold Coast at Elmina for manpower. Between 1831-1832, they bought a total of 44 slaves. In 1836, a total of 68 individuals were bought from the Gold Coast. Between 1837-1841, purchase increased. Asantehene Kwaku Dua I provided a total of 2,100 individuals. A purchase office was established at Kumasi. Purchase ceased when the British took over Elmina. 

Individuals on arrival eventually began taking root in Indonesia, marrying local women and establishing Indo-African communities in Purworedjo, Semarang, Salatiga, and Solo--central Indonesia. They assimiliated Dutch society and culture, speaking Dutch, and acquiring Dutch nationality, and sending their children to Dutch schools. They were looked upon as Dutch by locals. 

After service, the majority remained in Indonesia, serving in the Dutch East Indian Army. Their descendant continued the military tradition, until Indonesia received her independence. Most returned to the Netherlands after independence, as Dutch citizens or Black Dutchmen.

Works Cited

Afro-Europe-International Blog. Indo-Africans: The forgotten story of the Black Dutchmen. retrieve 26-July-2012