Nicolaas Debrot


Portrait of Nicolaas DebrotThe Dutch writer Nicolaas (Cola) Debrot (1902-1981) was born on the island of Bonaire, where his father owned a plantation. His father was Swiss and his mother from Venezuela. In 1904 the family moved to Curaçao. At the age of fourteen Debrot went to the Netherlands. After his exams he studied law at Utrecht University.


Cola Debrot travelled a lot and lived in several countries. In Paris he met the American dancer Estelle Reed. After their marriage the couple lived in America and Europe alternately until 1935.


After finishing his medical studies in Amsterdam he started there as a general practitioner. After the war he moved to Curaçao and took up practice there. In Willemstad he got engaged in culture and politics.


In 1951 he became the General Representative of the Netherlands Antilles in The Hague. After that he fulfilled a number of important functions, including delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations (1961). In 1958 he acted as special adviser to the Netherlands delegation to the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in Geneva.


Book cover 'Mijn zuster de negerin'From 1962 to 1970 he was Governor of the Netherlands Antilles (photo: National Archives of the Netherlands Antilles).


He died in 1981 in the Rosa Spier House, a special home for elderly artists in the Netherlands.


The government of the Netherlands Antilles awards a yearly Cola Debrot Prize for outstanding achievement in culture.


His first book was "Mijn zuster de negerin" (My sister the Negro, 1935). The story, in which the contrast between white and black is the central theme, was made into a movie in 1980. Apart from poems and short stories he wrote novels, essays and plays.



Stamp catalogue


Netherlands Antilles                      20 September 1988





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last revised: 28 February 2010