Center for Theology of Migration, Keti Koti, Abolition of Slavery and More


This is a portion of the speech I made today at the Center for Theology and Migration's commencement ceremony.


Dear fellow learners, congratulations on this significant achievement in your life. You've overcome numerous hurdles and obstacles to receive your postgraduate certificate from one of the Netherlands' most prestigious universities and faculties of religion and theology. That was your wish, and it has come true.

"This graduation on this date, has profound symbolic significance: it took us 400 years, but we are here, at the Center for Theology of Migration, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam the Netherlands..."

I recall you contacting me a year ago about joining our postgraduate program for migrant pastors and church leaders. We began our new journey together. We learned a lot from each other over the course of a year, laughed, and even grieved together. Most of us immigrants are constantly in survival mode, which makes us flexible, adaptable, and creative in the middle of a life which is often chaotic and unpredictable. We started this journey together! However, our journey did not begin last year! It began the moment we set foot in the Netherlands. Some of you many years ago and some of you just recent, or perhaps some of you were born here in first generation migrant family.


Our journey began four years ago, when we had, for the first time in Dutch Christian history, a "Center for Theology of Migration" here at the University founded by Abraham Kuyper in 1880. This center, which began four years ago, traces back to three decades ago, when Samen Kerk in Nederland began to mobilize and empower migrant churches by becoming a voice for all of us. SKIN, like us, went through challenges and battles to come to where we are now.


Our journey goes even further back - 159 years ago on this day, —July 1st—our ancestors were granted the freedom that had been acutely stolen from them, and so slavery was abolished on July 1st, 1863—yet almost 300 years before this date, another journey began, the journey into slavery...

However, our journey goes even further back - 159 years ago on this day, —July 1st—our ancestors were granted the freedom that had been acutely stolen from them, and so slavery was abolished on July 1st, 1863—yet almost 300 years before this date, another journey began, the journey into slavery, the journey into unknown lands, the journey of captivity. Prices have been paid, battles have been fought, tears have been poured, and bloods have been spilled till we got at this day, July 1st, which is the Keti Koti day, the day of the Dutch abolition of slavery, but also the day you graduate! This has profound symbolic significance: it took us 400 years, but we are here, at the Center for Theology of Migration, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam the Netherlands.


We have learned to rediscover ourselves and our cultures in the light of Christ and have learned to know and to love the Netherlands in the light of Christ. We are, as Christ says, the salt of the earth, and God has scattered us throughout this country known as the Netherlands. Let the journey continue!

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