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From the Barrel of Crabs to V of Victory


"From the Barrel of Crabs to V of Victory," is a special edition newsletter in Papiamnetu, produced by Sentro di Dama i su Famia (SEDA). It explores the concept of the crab mentality, where individuals hold each other back instead of supporting each other's success. The newsletter delves into the historical context of this mindset and its impact on various communities, particularly in Curaçao. It also highlights the symbolic significance of Cowrie shells and their spiritual properties. The lessons from geese, known for their teamwork and leadership, are presented as valuable insights for personal and collective growth. The newsletter features guides on important topics such as the consequences of rebellion, the impact of slavery, and the heroes of the nation. It invites readers to delve into the rich history, cultural aspects, and wisdom contained within the newsletter. By exploring these themes, readers can gain a deeper understanding of the crab mentality, transcend its limitations, and discover the path to personal empowerment and success.


With great joy and awareness, I have titled this newsletter, a guidebook for the neighborhood's mindset from the crab's mentality to the V of victory. It is something important in our culture and describes a way of thinking through the phrase "If I can't have it, neither can you." Metaphorically, it is derived from stories about crab behavior. When you put them in a barrel, they try to escape, and others hold them down or fight with them so they don't get out. Another crab covers the barrel. The analogical theory of human behavior is that group members try to reduce the SELF-CONFIDENCE of any member who wants to succeed over others simply because they are not satisfied with the other's progress. Envy, jealousy, resentment, ill will, conspiracy, or competitive feelings threaten their progress and that of others.

A Little History

In 1849, James Kirk Paulding used the expression in his book "The Puritan and His Daughter." "People who call themselves Christians can't live together in peace and quiet like Christians, instead of squabbling, fighting, backbiting, and spitting at each other, like so many crabs in a basket?" Marcus Garvey in 1932 stated, "Having had the wrong education as a start in his racial career, the Negro has become his own greatest enemy. Most of the troubles I have had in advancing the cause of the race have come from Negroes. Booker Washington aptly described the race in one of his lectures by stating that we were like crabs in a barrel, that none would allow the other to climb over." Natasha v.d. Dijs, 2011. Van der Dijs connects this 'essential drive' of the people to the 'crab mentality' when referring to Ong-a-Kwie's use of the expression 'crab mentality' to describe this attitude in Curaçao. LESSON: Counteract the crab by uplifting instead of bringing down, acknowledge and praise, support instead of criticizing, affirm positively.

The 7 Lessons of Life and Leadership We Can Learn from Geese:

They fly together in a V formation. The leader at the front shares a common goal and direction.

  • LESSON: When a team shares a common goal and direction, they can reach their destination more easily and efficiently because everyone benefits from the formation, covering 71% more flying range than if you fly alone. They stay in V formation. If a goose falls out of formation, it feels the drag and tries to get back into the formation.

  • LESSON: Once you establish a good team, it's important to stay close to each other. Not only is it more efficient, but when you're together, you have a better view of your surroundings. When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back to encourage and empower another leader to take charge.

  • LESSON: We not only need to acknowledge when help is needed but also work to empower those around us to take the lead when necessary. They like to honk to encourage, communicate, acknowledge, and support each other.

  • LESSON: Productivity is greater in a group where there is encouragement. It keeps the team motivated to achieve their goal. No goose is left behind; they stick together through good and bad. When one is in trouble or injured, two others go out to help and protect the one that fell out of formation.

  • LESSON: Stay together in difficult times. They maintain priorities, commitment to the team, core values, and purpose. They use the same flying route, adding year after year.

  • LESSON: Stay true to the core values and purpose of your group. Large groups always stick to their core values and preserve them proudly. They become agile when they get disrupted.

  • LESSON: Disruption means becoming uncomfortable when strategies and tactics change. Those who interrupt themselves challenge themselves to preserve goals and values, step out of their comfort zone, think resiliently, and stay proudly within the team until they achieve their goals.

President of SEDA

Magic of Cowrie Shells

Description of the Cover Illustration

The illustration on the cover of the newspaper is an abstract watercolor painting. The base and inspiration for the painting are the Cowrie shells. The shells are painted beneath the blue sea, symbolizing the transatlantic route of trade of enslaved Africans. Cowrie shells have historical, cultural, and spiritual significance. The shells are small and shaped like porcelain. They come in white, tiger eye, and bright colors. In ancient Africa, the Cowrie shells were a means of payment. In the 16th century, Europeans engaged in commerce with Africa took advantage of this opportunity by using Cowrie shells as currency in African commercial markets. According to history, Cowrie shells are one of the oldest means of payment in the world. Their use quickly spread to other parts of the world. In ancient Africa, Cowrie shells were exchanged for purchasing goods and slaves, similar to today's dollar. Besides, Cowrie shells are known to bring luck and protect the spirits of those who possess them. Many African tribes use these shells during their ceremonies. There is a belief that Cowrie shells are a direct form of communication between humans and the Goddess Yamayá of the ocean. Cowrie shells represent seven values from a spiritual perspective:

  • Wealth and power of the ocean

  • Femininity and fertility

  • Protection

  • Abundance and fortune

  • Magical power and luck

  • Love

  • Creation and manifestation

Guides for the Lessons from the Crab's Mindset to the V of Victory included:

  • Guide for Lesson 1 - Origin and Consequences of the 1795 Rebellion - Written by Marlon Regales

  • Guide for Lesson 2 - Impact of Slavery on Our People - Written by Stella Pieters Kwiers

  • Guide for Lesson 3 - Transatlantic Triangular Trade Route (Europe, Africa, America) - Written by Mila Dorothea

  • Guide for Lesson 4 - Tula, Our National Hero - Written by Irodice Cijntje - Copra

  • Guide for Lesson 5 - Indian Ranch 1 - Written by Ercala Maduro

  • Guide for Lesson 6 - Indian Ranch 2 - Written by Ercala Maduro

  • Guide for Lesson 7 - Helping Others Instead of Pulling Them Down and Pushing Them Out - Written by Stella Pieters Kwiers

  • Guide for Lesson 8 - Damage, Reparation, and Compensation - Written by Mila Dorothea

  • Guide for Lesson 9 - Modern Africa - Meyrtha Marie Leetz-Cijntje

  • Guide for Lesson 10 - Tula, Our National Hero - Written by Iradice Cijntje - Copra