Claire-Marie

Malawi

This is
Claire-Marie Munro (1967)

Country of origin
Malawi

In the Netherlands since
1993

Lives in
Amsterdam Centre

Profession
Personal assistent by Euronext

Malawi in Amsterdam 
'Doesn't exist'

Malawi try out
‘I make scrambled egggs with a kick, very spicy. I grow up with African and Indias food, I love to experiment with this.'

Misses
'How older I get, how more I desire the landscape of my childhood. The hills en the nature, the space and not having neighbours: Really breathe.'

Would love to
Take a sculptural class

“I went to an international school in Malawi and my friends from the Netherlands taught me to count to ten in Dutch. When my older sister got married to a Dutchman, my mother thought it better if we all stayed together, so we all moved to Zwijndrecht. After three years we were sick of it, so when I was fifteen we moved to London as my mother had family there.


Sadly, my mother died in 1993. I asked my professor if I could stop with my studies for a year to work through this difficult even, and that ear I stayed in Amsterdam. I had never been here before, even when we had lived in Zwijndrecht. I think it’s incredibly pretty and lovely and small. After London and New York, where I had also lived for three months, I thought the size of Amsterdam was perfect. You can get on your bike and within 30 minutes you can be on the other side of town. That’s a real luxury. The freedom of the city is tangible, and I’m always amazed by something or other. After I completed my studies in London in 1996 I came here to live.

What I don’t understand is the lack of closeness in the family, either emotionally or literally. People say things like, “May parents live out in Friesland so I hardly ever see them.” I think this is strange. In Malawi you travel for hours to see family members, because they’re worth it. Socially, Malawians are very different, too. A party is for everyone, young and old. There’s music and everyone party’s together. You take the best food you can possibly prepare, and place them onto tables full of different dishes. Grandmothers dance with grandchildren, fathers with daughters. It’s so different here. A small circle of friends for a birthday, and private parties for family and friends. There’s a wide gap between people. That was quite a culture shock.

Madonna’s in Malawi at the moment, and then you realise that some people have a very warped view of the country. When I first came here people would ask me the strangest things. “Do you have running water and electricity? Did you live in a hut?” Of course, there’s a lot of poverty in Malawi, but it you have a little money you can live like a king there.”

5 people in Amsterdam have the Malawian nationality

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