This is
Irene Luzinda (1989)

Country of origin

In the Netherlands since

Lives in
Amsterdam South-East

In care

Ugandan cooking

First impression of Amsterdam
'Really different, in Kampala there are a lot of high buildings.'

Uganda in Amsterdam
‘Uganda House in the Hogevecht building in South-East. You can eat Ugundan meals and play games and also listen to Ugundan radio.'

'The weather, language, my family, the biologic food and the fact I never had hay fever over there.'

“I came to live in Amsterdam a year ago. My mother has lived here for longer and when she came to Uganda she brought me clothes and books. This way, I learned a little about Amsterdam from a distance. My mother moved to Amsterdam to care for a gentleman she had known earlier through his charity work in Uganda. She left when I was six. I was hard, saying goodbye; I was young and missed her terribly. After seventeen years I also came to Amsterdam, and since then the entire family has moved here.

My first time in Amsterdam coincided with my moving here. I had put on an orange shirt printed with the word ‘Holland’ to show my solidarity. It really was an amazing experience. I was finally going to live with my mother and would be able to see Amsterdam with my own eyes. We drove from Schiphol to Zuid Oost. It was really cold. So cold I started to shiver, my fingers began to be painful, and my nose started to run. But even with weather like this, I was very, very happy.

You can’t compare Amsterdam with Kampala. The fact that everyone can walk through the crowds in safety - you couldn’t imagine doing that in Kampala. They don’t have any traffic regulations there, either. Whoever drives the fastest rules the road. You can’t walk around talking on a mobile phone or wearing jewellery, as you wouldn’t have them for long. Amsterdam is a beautiful old city where everything has a meaning. Kampala is built up with large shopping malls and skyscrapers; the old city is long gone.

I can’t get used to the red light district. Prostitution, drugs and homosexuality are illegal in Uganda. If I walk in the Wallen with my colleagues I still think, “Oh my God”. I can’t get used to it. We were brought up with the idea that it isn’t normal for a woman to fall in love with another woman, or a man for a man. If you are gay in Uganda you are either punished or shot dead.

I found my best friend here at school.  He’s gay, but never dared to tell me. I thought there was something about him so I asked him. He said that I had always been so negative about homosexuality and he never dared to tell me. I gave him a hug and said that he’s my friend. Thank to him I know that homosexuals are like me, and everyone has the choice to be what they want to be. You are free. I will never judge anyone again.”

112 people in Amsterdam have the Ugandan nationality


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