maandag 5 oktober 2009


The production team of the book project 'Black skin, Orange heart' returned to Los Angeles for the two remaining photo sessions and interviews. After months of establishing contact, a meeting with the youngest American descendant of Prince Kwasi Boachi was finally scheduled. And what a suprise meeting it turned out to be. Dominic Boachi is the treasurer of the Boachi family archive who has a profound interest in the history of his Ashanti ancestor. After showing a wonderful collection of black and white photos of Kwasi jr. and his second wife Trees Paules (Dominic's grandparents), he unveiled a replica of Prince Kwasi Boachi's seal ring with his initials and coat of arms. Dominic proudly posed for photographer Armando Ello with this unique artefact. (A special chapter of the book is dedicated to the Ashanti princes Kwasi Boachi and Kwame Poku who served as a 'warranty' for the recruitment of African soldiers for the army in the Dutch Indies and were sent to The Netherlands to receive a 'European' education, and their descendants in The Netherlands and the United States).

The last photo session took place in Bloomington at the eastern frontier of the city where Hubertus 'Koko' van den Burg lives. Koko is a great-grandson of African soldier Govert Stap who was born in 'Goeroma/Donko' (the region north of Ghana) in 1837 and was recruited in 1862. After serving in the Dutch Indies army for twenty years, he chose Soerakarta (Solo) as his permanent residence. The circumstances were notably different for his descendants: granddaughter Nora decided to leave the Dutch Indies in 1945, right after the Japanse occupation and took her children to The Netherlands. In 1967, Koko emigrated to Los Angeles, leaving his wife and children temporarily to find a job and housing. After securing both, his family flew to the US where they settled in the city of La Puente. As a selfmade man, Koko van den Burg has lived the American Dream. He owns his own heating and electrical repair business and proudly posed for Armando, wearing his handmade Stetson.

donderdag 1 oktober 2009


The production team of the book project 'Black skin, Orange heart' drove through the sizzling hot Mojave Desert to Las Vegas to portray 'belanda hitam' descendant Richard Hulskamp. Richard is a great-grandson of African soldier Willem Nelk who was recruited in 1862, but left for Elmina after his tour of duty in the Dutch-Indies, leaving his young son Joseph in the care of an African colleague. Joseph's daughter Aïda (yes, named after the Ethiopian beauty of the homonymous opera) is Richard's mother. Together with his Amsterdam-based cousin Alexander Nelk, Richard discovered the military documents of their ancestors, reconstructing the lives and times of these illustrious men. Richard thoroughly enjoyed posing for photographer Armando Ello. At the 'Fabulous Nevada' sign, the photo shoot was shortly interrupted by the arrival of a couple who were wed on the spot by an Elvis impersonator. Only in Vegas!
The most spectacular photos were taken on a walkway right above the world famous Las Vegas Strip. Nowhere in the world can one see so many bright lights, neon structures, giant-sized billboards and humongous LCD screens with clips of current theatre shows. It's a trip, in every sense of the word. The short stay was rounded off by a visit to several spectacular casinos such as The Venetian (which features replicas of the Doge's Palace, the San Marco square and the Bridge of Sighs), Caesar's Palace (which is a strange hybrid of Greek and Roman styles and sculptures, even featuring a Trojan Horse) and the Bellagio. Every half hour, the 'singing fountain' in front of this Italianate hotel/casino comes alive on 'Luck be a Lady' or 'Time to say goodbye". The team had a hard time saying goodbye to Sin City, but made sure a penny was thrown in the Trevi Fountain inside Caesar's Palace.