“I’m the fourth generation of our family born in Zimbabwe and lived there until I was twenty-five. I’m one of four kids and we have - just like our father - left the country. Right now, Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries in the world, led by that dictator, Mugabe.
I went with my childhood sweetheart to London. After living the high-life, with all it’s accompanying stress, for nine years, we made the decision to sell everything. Eighteen months later we started our journey through Europe in a camper van. Just us, the dog, and the camper van.
We didn’t go through Holland on this trip, as camping where you like isn’t easy here. We did meet people in Gibraltar who told us about the positive sides of life in Amsterdam. Years later I went there and was very impressed. I told my girlfriend that it was a cool place and I’d love to live there, but by then I had a home and job in London.
In 2011 this changed. After our trip our ties to England weren’t so strong and we went to see what the job market was like in Amsterdam. I found a job and slept on a friend’s sofa for a month while I searched for a home for my wife and I. She arrived a month later with a bus full of stuff and for the past five years we’ve lived very happily next to the Wester park.
I made more friends here, in the first year, than I had made in the past nine years in London. People are very open here and there’s a large ex-pat community. By learning the language, I am becoming more and more of an Amsterdammer and understand the Dutch culture better. Amsterdammers are much more approachable when you speak their language.
I organise a frisbee group which has a great mix of Amsterdammers and ex-pats. The outdoor culture of Zimbabwe is much greater than here and people are much more into sports over there. At Zimbabwean schools they dedicate fifteen hours a week to sports. The big difference of course is that in Africa you don’t have so much material goods, and are therefore less materialistic. People here are very privileged; if you turn the tap, water comes out, and if you flick a switch a light comes on. People take this too much for granted and it’s also hard to imagine what life is like without such luxury. But if you come from Africa, you are always grateful for the simple things.”
34 people in Amsterdam have the Zimbabwean nationality.