Native and African Troops in the Royal Dutch Indian Army....
The Zwarte Hollanders (Indonesian: Belanda Hitam, Javanese: Londo Ireng, literally Black Dutchmen) was the Javanese name for the African recruits to the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army during the colonial period
Between 1831 and 1872, over three thousand Africans were recruited from the Dutch Gold Coast for service as colonial troops in the Dutch East Indies. This recruitment was in fact an emergency measure, as the Dutch army lost thousands of European soldiers and a much larger number of "native" soldiers in the Java War against Prince Diponegoro.
Following the independence of Belgium in 1830, the Netherlands population was considerably diminished, so that colonial combat losses were even more difficult to replace. Furthermore the Dutch wanted the number of locally recruited soldiers in the East Indies Army to be limited to roughly half the total strength, to ensure the loyalty of native forces. It was also hoped that the African soldiers would be more resistant to the tropical climate and tropical diseases of the Dutch East Indies than European soldiers.
The African soldiers were first recruited in Elmina. Of the 150 that were recruited, 44 were descendants of Euro-African families in Elmina. They were deployed in 1832 in southern Sumatra. The Africans were less resistant to the climate than had been hoped, but as soldiers impressed the Sumatran population. In 1836 a group of 88 African soldiers arrived in the Dutch East Indies. The Dutch government then decided to recruit from the Ashanti tribe.
In the autumn of 1836 Major General J. Verveer undertook a mission to the King of Ashanti. In November 1 1836, after he had arrived in Elmina, General Verveer departed with a retinue of about 900 people (the majority porters carrying provisions and gifts) to the capital of the Ashanti kingdom, Comassie (Kumasi). After lengthy negotiations, an agreement was concluded with King Kwaku Dua. In Kumasi, a recruiting branch office was established by Jacob Huydecoper, a Dutch government official from Elmina of mixed Dutch-African descent.
Kwaku Dua also gave two princes, Kwasi Boachi and Kwame Poku Boachi to Verveer in the Netherlands for training. Their subsequent careers are described by Arthur Japin in his novel The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi (1997).
Because the British had already abolished slavery, a somewhat cautious approach was taken. The Ashanti king offered slaves and prisoners of war from the surrounding regions. However they had nominally to put themselves forward as voluntary recruits. As Dutch military service personnel they were entitled to receive pay.
British objections in 1842 led to discontinuation of the relatively successful recruitment. In 1855 enrolment resumed however due to the positive experiences of African soldiers in the Dutch East Indies. This recruitment was now on a strictly voluntary basis.
End of African recruitment
A total of several thousand African soldiers "with a Dutch name", were shipped to the Dutch East Indies. The Treaty of Sumatra in 1871 gave the Netherlands possessions on the Gold Coast to the British. This terminated the recruitment of Africans for the Dutch East Indian Army. On April 20 1872 the last ship with African recruits left for Java. There were however two further attempts to recruit black volunteers for the Colonial Army. Between 1876 and 1879 thirty American black recruits were hired for the East Indian army. In 1890 there was an attempt to obtain recruits from Liberia. A total of 189 Liberians went to Java, but this group became almost entirely dissatisfied with failed promises and returned to Liberia in 1892.
Paulina says: What happened to the Belanda Hitam, the "Black Dutchmen" taken by the Dutch from Dutch Gold Coast -Ghana to you and me, between 1831 and 1872 to Indonesian? I have until last week never heard about these Ghanaian soldiers who were taken to the 'Netherlands East Indies' when the Dutch army, "lost thousands of European soldiers and a much larger number of "native" soldiers in the Java War against Prince Diponegoro... I wanna know more -don't you? I'm going to do more research and will keep youssssss in the loop......
In the remainder of the 19th century, the Dutch Gold Coast slowly fell into disarray. The only substantial development during this period was the recruitment of soldiers for the Dutch East Indies Army. This recruitment of the so-called Belanda Hitam (Indonesian for "Black Dutchmen") started in 1831 as an emergency measure as the Dutch army lost thousands of European soldiers and a much larger number of "native" soldiers in the Java War (1825–1830), and at the same time saw its own population base diminished by the independence of Belgium (1830). As the Dutch wanted the number of natives in the Dutch East Indies Army to be limited to roughly half the total strength to maintain the loyalty of native forces, the addition of forces from the Gold Coast seemed an ideal opportunity to keep the army at strength and loyal at the same time. It was also hoped that the African soldiers would be more resistant to the tropical climate and tropical diseases of the Dutch East Indies than European soldiers.Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Gold_Coast
Taken from: African Identity in Asia by Shihan de Silva Jayasuriya
Many Africans were considered to be aligned with the European rulers who had brought them to Asian countries and suffered as the indigenous people struggled to gain independence. Ghanaians, that the Dutch had brought to Indonesia, were left marginalized on independence in 1949 and by 1956 those that had not wanted to be repatriated to Ghana were taken to Holland. In Sri Lanka the Afrikans are seen as being more Portuguese than aligned to the Sinhala or Tamil Sri Lankans. The prospect for forging stronger links in the future with Africans who went eastwards is fascinating. On the issue of diasporas Dr De Silva raises some pertinent questions, "The application of the term diaspora to today's Afro-Asians has been contested by some academics. One may ask, how many generations does it take for a migrant group to become indigenous?...While Afro-Americans look to Africa as a Homeland, this is generally not the case with Afro-Asians, highlighting the extent to which Africans have been assimilated into Asian society." (p 105) Exploration of the Africans who were forcibly moved eastwards into Asia. While the western hemisphere African enslavement holocaust is much documented (and even celebrated by some) there is still much work to be done on the African diaspora in Asia, the Indian Ocean, China and the Pacific. This book is a contribution to revealing that history."Source: http://www.amazon.com/African-Identity-Shihan-silva-Jayasuriya/dp/1558764712