692. Tula, Nel Simon and Rignald Recordino: Breaking Our Chains

Erected at Riffort (Otrobanda), Curaçao's National Monument, 'Desenkadená' (Breaking the Chains), by Curaçaoan sculptor Nel Simon.

Curaçao’s National Monument, ‘Desenkadená’ (Breaking the Chains) by Curaçaoan sculptor Nel Simon was erected at Rif (Otrobanda) in October 1998.

“The monument can be the beginning of the healing process… Descendants of the slave owners… must also come and look at this monument… and say and believe that such a thing will never happen again. Then we can let bygones be bygones and look ahead to the future… and unite.” Frank Martinus Arion (Curaçaoan author and Papiamentu language advocate)

Incredible physical and emotional strength has been carefully, lovingly and unapologetically sculpted into the triptych ‘Desenkadená’ (Breaking the Chains) also known as the ‘Tula Monument’. Nel Simon‘s larger than life sculpture represents three leaders of Curaçao’s largest slave rebellion,  but only one of them is free (from chains) and using a hammer and anvil to set the other two – a man and a woman – free.

Simon’s imposing, perfectly chiseled bodies and thoughtful, confident facial expressions evoke Michelangelo’s masterpiece David. He chooses to focus on the solutions to oppression — strength and collaboration — as opposed to struggle and pain. We want to believe that the chained man and woman are strong enough – and capable enough – to break their own chains. Yet the physically, and surely, mentally liberated man (‘Tula’) offers a helping hand.

On August 17, 1795, freedom fighter Tula and other rebel slave leaders Bazjan Karpata, Louis Mercier, Pedro Wacao, and Sablika led hundreds of slaves in a month-long guerrilla rebellion… to achieve ‘justice, equality, brotherhood and liberty’ for all yu di Kòrsou. Tula was ultimately captured by Dutch slave owners and publicly tortured to death on October 3, 1795 — on the very spot in Rif (Otrobanda) where the monument was erected in 1998.

The Dutch finally abolished slavery 68 years after Tula’s revolt, in 1863. So 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of abolition. Commemorations have centered on creating greater awareness for our history of slavery, so as to bring understanding, compassion and cohesion to a higher level. “If the average yu di Kòrsou were to be as informed as, say, the average Venezuelan about Simón Bolívar, or the average American about George Washington – then our society would be much more driven to succeed,” says Lionel Janga from Fundashon Parke Nashonal. The centerpiece of the 150th anniversary of abolition is the critically acclaimed international movie, Tula: The Revolt, starring Danny GloverJeroen Krabbé, and Obi Abili (stay tuned for a later post)

Filmmaker Gloria Lowe has documented Simon’s 2-year creation of ‘Desenkadená’ from clay, to bronze casting, to unveiling at Rif in this 10 minute documentary — set to the song ‘Tula Warda’ (‘Tula Be Patient’) composed by legendary singer / songwriter Rignald Recordino, leader of Doble R.


Chorus:

Tula warda, no wak ahinda,

ya ku nos tin algun kos di drecha

Kere ku nos ta trahando duru

Tula be patient, don’t look yet

we still have some fixing to do

Believe that we are working hard 

Verse:

Tula ba sinja nos kon lucha,

kon bringa pa nos hanja nos balor

Mira, mira ki ironía, nos lucha ya no ta kontr’e opresor,

nos ta bringa otro, si nos mes ta bringando otro

Tula you taught us how to struggle

how to fight for our self-worth

Look, look how ironic, our struggle is no longer against the oppressor

we fight each other, yes we fight each other

Pre-chorus:

ma tur kos por drecha nos tin tinu pe

ma tur kos lo kambia nos tin tinu pe

but everything can improve through awareness

but everything can change through awareness

Verse:

Nos no sabi ki ta bomba,

ni un tin kadena na nos pia

Pero tin di nos su lomba

mester karga inhustisia kada dia

Ahinda tin miseria,

Tula si ahinda tin miseria

We don’t know bomba (= the slave owner)

and our feet aren’t enchained

But some of us still bare

injustice every day

There’s still misery,

Tula yes there’s still misery

Pre-chorus:

ma tur kos por drecha nos tin tinu pe

ma tur kos lo kambia nos tin tinu pe

but everything can improve through awareness

but everything can change through awareness

Chorus:

Tula warda, no wak ahinda,

ya ku nos tin algun kos di drecha

kere ku nos ta trahando duru

Tula be patient, don’t look yet

we still have some fixing to do

Believe that we are working hard 

 Verse:

Tula, bo bid’enter ba mula,

pa no haña sla’i pa pida pan

Awe nos no ke kans’e kurpa,

Tòg nos ke kue’inter mundu ku dos man

Un ta presta muchu,

nò nos no ta prestando muchu

Tula, your entire life was a grind

to dodge beatings and get a piece of bread 

Today we don’t want to tire ourselves

But we still want to grab the world with both hands

It doesn’t work,

no it’s not working out so well

Pre-chorus:

ma tur kos por drecha nos tin tinu pe

ma tur kos lo kambia nos tin tinu pe

but everything can improve through awareness

but everything can change through awareness

Chorus:

Tula warda, no wak ahinda,

ya ku nos tin algun kos di drecha

kere ku nos ta trahando duru

Tula be patient, don’t look yet

we still have some fixing to do

Believe that we are working hard 

Verse:

Tempu bo tabata nos guia,

bo metanan tur tabata bon kla

Nos a para riba nos pia,

ma unda nos ta bayendo nos no sa,

skur ta nos kaminda si nos mantene mesun ruta

Back when you were our guide

your goals were crystal clear

We’re independent,

but we don’t know where we’re headed,

our future is dark if we remain on the same path

Pre-chorus:

ma tur kos por drecha nos tin tinu pe

ma tur kos lo kambia nos tin tinu pe

but everything can improve through awareness

but everything can change through awareness

Chorus:

Tula warda, no wak ahinda,

ya ku nos tin algun kos di drecha

kere ku nos ta trahando duru

Tula be patient, don’t look yet

we still have some fixing to do

Believe that we are working hard 

About 1000awesomethingsaboutcuracao

I'm Carolina Gomes-Casseres, the creator of 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao. I live in and love Manhattan, but sometimes miss my first Awesome island...

One comment

  1. Pingback: 687. The First Opera in Papiamentu: Katibu di Shon (Slave and Master) | 1000 Awesome Things About Curaçao

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