When you think of Amsterdam, what may come to mind is architecture and accents, not Blacks. However, Oakland Native Jennifer Tosch has made it her mission to teach about the contributions and historical significance of Africans in Dutch society.
The daughter of Suriname natives, Tosch always found herself interested in her history and culture, but her mother gave her very few details.
After her mother’s passing, Tosch learned about her mother’s years in the Netherlands after World War II.
It wasn’t until 2010 when she went back to UC Berkeley to complete her Bachelor’s Degree that opportunity presented itself. She took a course on the history of Suriname, the Dutch Antilles and the Netherlands that began to connect the dots of history, legacy, and culture.
After completing a summer intensive, she realized the void “regarding positive narratives about the presence and contributions of the African Diaspora in the Netherlands.”
So Black Heritage Tours (BHT) was born.
For the past 7 months, Tosch has conducted boat-based tours through Amsterdam, giving what she calls an “Afrikacentric” point of view. She believes Black Heritage Tours brings to light the hidden African histories in Europe.
“Seeing the city from the canals is the best way to get acquainted with this historic place,” Tosch said.
Travellers start the tour off by visiting the National Monument – located in the center of Amsterdam, visit historic canal museum, and markets. Tosch also guides groups to the historic Maritime Museum where a replica of an 18th century slave ship is docked.
The tour ends with a walk to the National Slavery Monument followed by a commemorative dinner at a local Afro-Dutch restaurant that represents the integration of two cultures.