A statue of Dano-Norwegian missonary and coloniser Hans Egede in Nuuk, Greenland was the target of direct action on June 20th, in time for Greenland National Day, which is on the 21st. As can be seen by the above photo, the statue was splashed with red paint, with the word “DECOLONIZE” painted around the base, along with sacred Inuit markings that were used as tattoos.
The organisers of the action issued the following statement soon thereafter: “It’s about time that we stop celebrating colonizers and that we start taking back what is rightfully ours. It’s time to decolonize our minds and our country. No colonizer deserves to be on top of a mountain like that. We need to learn the truth of our history.”
The Grapevine contacted artist and activist Aqqalu Berthelsen about the action, who had posted about it on Facebook.
“This is about telling history right,” Aqqalu told us. “Hans Egede was a bad man. He cut our women’s hair if they got pregnant outside of a Christian marriage and employed other scare tactics. We learn about this man in school, and when we leave school, we see a statute of this man on top of a hill. This was a man supported by white supremacy, colonisation and racism. He didn’t see my people as people; he saw us as resources.”
“There is a bit of a generational divide,” Aqqalu says. “Mostly between boomers and the new generation, and it’s the new generation leading the decolonisation effort.”
Greenland is as yet not fully independent from Denmark, although it is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
“Most Greenlanders want independence; it’s mostly a question of timing,” Aqqalu says. “Right now, we’re dependent on the annual grant from Denmark.”
As the move towards independence continues at its own pace, Aqqalu says that there is still considerable progress to be made in terms of relations with the Danes.
“Relations with Denmark have been getting better since Home Rule was established in 1979, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Aqqalu says. “Danish people don’t really talk about racism, and it shows.”
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