Keeping Bonaire’s history alive through Storytelling


Fundashon Plataforma Kultural organizes activities for all kinds of ages. One of those activities is Storytelling. Every Thursday afternoon a group of elderly people look at photos from Boi Antoin’s image archive, to tell each other stories about the early days and to dig up all kinds of memories. 

Pascolita is one of the persons who come to Storytelling every week. She loves to bring back memories and to recognize people in photos, like family members. Every time she leaves she has learned something new, she explains. Looking at old files and photos and talking about them with others keeps her memories alive.  

Preserving knowledge

According to Pascolita elderly people should be interviewed more to preserve (old) knowledge, before it disappears. Many young people do not know about the history of their grandparents on Bonaire; how they lived, and what they did from day to day. The old generation has so much knowledge, you’d be surprised on how much they can tell and teach about Bonaire’s old culture and former habits. 

Pascolita regrets seeing so few children playing on the streets. It almost seems like most kids are only playing on their phones nowadays. She would love to see people invite their children and grandchildren to these kind of events, to teach them old games, so kids get introduced to them again. Games like Jacks, Hide and Seek, playing with marbles, ‘Annemaria koekoek’ etc. 

Old ways

Thinking back on a time when living on a kunuku was where Bonairian life was all about, Pascolita tells how planting plants, getting water from a well, preparing your food outside on a fire with three big stones was part of daily life. No refrigerators, meat was self-preserved, taking care of your own food instead of going to the supermarket like we do now. Knowing when to plant and harvest crops according to the position and cycle of the moon. It sounds like a long time ago, but it wasn’t. Pascolita is a bit worried when this knowledge isn’t passed on soon it maybe disappears forever. Sharing stories about how it was living in former times on the island is a great way to start triggeringthe interest of younger people, so they learn about their ancestors, own history and culture. A history that isn’t always taught at school. Learning about music that was played and what kind of dances people used to dance. But more important, to let different generations connect and learn from each other. Throughout Storytelling the older generation can transfer their knowledge to get youngsters enthusiastic to learn more so they can pass it along to. 

Pascolita is very happy Fundashon Plataforma Kultural facilitates a space where youngsters get the chance to learn many things like music, dances and Bonaire’s history. And in the meantime, she will listen to, talk about and share memories at the weekly Storytelling activity that will start again after the summer holiday. Keep an eye out on our website and Facebook for more information on the dates.