Talking Bonaire – Delno Tromp
Feature Story XpBonaire IslandLife
Delno Tromp is a well-known figure on Bonaire, mostly because of his successful career and his attitude of telling it like it is. His honesty and his willingness to voice his opinion without hesitation and with no hidden agenda is something that is hard to find in any of the public figures on the island. Delno became the first openly gay Deputy on Bonaire with a portfolio that includes his work in economy, tourism and agriculture.
Delno was born on Bonaire and after completing school on the island went to the United States and Puerto Rico to further his education. In 8 years’ time, he completed a PhD in philosophy and business administration, a Master’s Degree in business administration, a Bachelor’s Degree in tourism and an Associate’s Degree in hotel administration.
As of today, Delno is Director of the slavery museum at Kura Hulanda, Curacao; President of Stinapa’s Board of Directors on Bonaire and travels the world as a consultant.
Delno’s parents taught him and his 4 siblings to be free thinkers and independent individuals. Delno was his own person from an early age and curious about the world around him. His curiosity led him all around the world and still does.
Back to the roots
The history of his people, brought to Bonaire enslaved, made him want to experience Africa for himself. In Kenya he taught PhD business students for 5 years. The first year he was younger than any of his students. In his opinion, adapting and adjusting to a country’s culture is the key wherever you go. Being a gay man in Kenya, where homosexuality is a crime, meant respecting the laws and customs of the country. “Not running around in high heels, a rainbow flag and kissing a man in public”, as he describes it, even though he never made a secret of his sexuality. An unexpected experience was that Kenyans never saw him as a man of color and even called him “Mzungu” (white skin, white man). He enjoyed his experiences there and most of all learned to appreciate the simple things in life.
Being Gay on Bonaire
On Bonaire, most people are religious and the main interpretation of the Bible is that a woman and a man are meant to be together and same sex relationships are seen as a sin. Of course Delno disagrees with this. In his opinion all humans have the same rights and no religion can tell you how to live your life. Due to his openness, he never had a problem with his sexual orientation here on Bonaire, not even within his career. In his opinion, the key is to be respectful to one another and to your surroundings.
Care about Bonaire
While he travels year-round, he spends a majority of his time on Bonaire and is very involved in the community and with nature. He recently became a board member at Stinapa for the second time, only this time as President. He believes that protecting nature is beneficial for the island’s value and its economy. He personally cares about the island and at his house you will find a Selibon cart that he uses to pick up trash in his neighborhood and the nearby coastline 2-3 times a week.
Nature photography is one of his lifelong hobbies and is also the inspiration for his other hobby, painting. Delno also paints on Curacao, where he mostly paints portraits. The proceeds of the sales go to an orphanage.
Where do we go? What has to change?
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
Delno’s love for his island and his people is obvious, but sometimes some criticism is necessary in order to develop and improve.
Even though he grew up to think and speak for himself and become an independent person, he thinks the problem is that people on Bonaire still don’t feel comfortable to speak out loud and stand up for their believes and opinions. “Free yourself from the past and the setbacks in life, don’t become a slave to what has passed already, live in the now and concentrate on going forward.”
Time for new and young leadership
“The political situation, with its constantly changing coalitions and leadership in our local government is not helping us to go forward and to earn trust from the European Netherlands”, says Delno. “We have to work together, not fight each other. A new generation of leaders with good education and new visions in combination with good advisors would improve our situation“, he states. According to Delno, The Netherlands is of the opinion that we have to straighten out our issues and take care of our affairs. Right now their stand is more, “He who pays the piper, calls the tune" by holding back financial assistance in many fields. “In my own experience, the politics on the island make or break a young career. It doesn’t matter your education, when you are from the wrong party, you have no chance to obtain a position you would be qualified for“, he states. In Delno’s opinion, “When we would be capable of taking care of our own affairs, the Netherlands would mingle less in our business “
For example, right now we have Governors on all islands and a Kingdom Representative who has to represent the islands in the Netherlands. A lot of money goes to waste, why can’t our governor represent us? To Delno, “the money could be spend and put to better use in our education system.”
Even though our population has grown, the local community has not changed much. Delno’s experience has been to respect the culture and its people when you want to be a part and understand the society you live in. On Bonaire, many civil servants sent from the Netherlands come and go, but never truly put in the effort to have a real understanding of the island and its people. Many think that it all has to be like the European Netherlands because we are part of it. Putting more effort into understanding the culture would be helpful.
In Delno’s opinion, nature education has to become a bigger part of the school curriculum, starting at an early age. 1/3 of the island is a protected nature park and our economy relies on it.
Young people should read more books and be active in learning new things. Every new experience enriches your life and strengthens your personality.
Care about each other
For most of his life, Delno has been active in charity work. “Help where help is needed, not to better your image or for publicity, but because you care.” Many people, young and old, live in circumstances that do not allow growth towards a healthy community. Help is needed to build equal opportunities so that we can live in harmony with each other.”
Every year Delno organizes a Christmas dinner with presents for the elderly at a local restaurant. Additionally, this year he will organize an exhibition by young painters on the island. The proceeds will be spend on buying necessities and presents for youngsters is need.
Don’t wait, act!
Blaming others for the circumstances we live in seems to be the easiest way out and is all too human. “To change your circumstances, you need to be proactive. Don’t wait for someone else to pick you up, do it yourself“, Delno advises. Identifying the problem is one thing, but working on the solution is the next step. “Working hard on your goals and creating a way to meet financial needs make you independent.”
Never give up!
“Not everything I did in life was a success, but I don’t regret anything. Some things I would not repeat, but it taught me so much. It is important to be curious, learn, act and never give up.” That is a wise life lesson.