zaterdag 26 september 2009

From the East to the West Coast

Reporter Griselda Molemans and photographer Armando Ello touched down in Los Angeles for the next stage of their US tour for the book publication 'Black skin, Orange heart'. As L.A. is Griselda's hometown, the transport in the city is by surf car, i.e. her Jeep Wagoneer 1984. Armando got his first taste of 'Hollywood' on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard at the premiere of the movie Zombieland. The spooky pic features big names such as Woody Harrelson and Abigail Breslin.

The first photo shoot took place in Altadena where Rudolf Goutier, great-grandson of African soldier Najoersie lives. Soldier Najoersie was a Mossi warrior from present-day Burkina Faso. His son Willem requested permission to change the family name to 'Niks'. The Indo-African Juliana Niks is Rudolf's mother who took her five sons to The Netherlands after Indonesia's independence. Rudolf chose for a new life in the US and together with his Dutch-Indonesian wife, raised three children. He posed for Armando with his eye-catching Ford Thunderbird 1964 which still runs smoothly

The next photo shoot was in Gardena, home town of Elisabeth Schilling-Muller who is a great-granddaughter of soldier Willem Zwol. Elisabeth, who has vivid memories of her great-grandmother Sariem, emigrated to the US in 1961 with her Dutch-Indonesian husband and children. She's very proud of her African heritage and always wondered why she couldn't remember where in Java ancestor Willem Zwol was buried. The reason? At the age of 72, Willem Zwol decided to leave his wife Nakiem and children and returned to Elmina, the harbour city in Ghana where he had embarked.

dinsdag 22 september 2009

On tour in the US

Photographer Armando Ello and journalist Griselda Molemans are currently traveling in the US to interview several descendants of ' Black Dutchmen' as the African soldiers who served in the Netherlands Indies army were called. The first stop of the tour was in Upper Marlboro, MD, where Daisy Hodges-Herbig lives with her American husband. Daisy was born in Semarang and came to The Netherlands in 1955. After meeting Glennard Hodges at a jazz club in Amsterdam, the couple got married and moved to the US. Daisy's life story is truly unique and even amazed her American relatives who had only heard part of her story.

Next stop through Washington, D.C., was Birmingham, AL. At the airport, Armando couldn't resist posing with the presidential couple.

In Birmingham, Griselda's luggage was delayed, but host Thad Ulzen, descendant of soldier Manus Ulzen who returned to Elmina after a shortened tour of duty in the Dutch Indies, and his wife Ekua Mensah offered a gracious welcome at the Ulzen Mansion in Tuscaloosa, just outside of Birmingham. The photos that Armando took of Thad Ulzen show him in Ghanaian regal attire. The next batch of interviews takes place in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.