“When I was a year old my mother took me and fled the civil war in Liberia. Our journey was meant to go via Europe to America, but my mother met a Dutch man on the way and fell in love. We went to Holland with him. My grandmother and aunt, who were also on the flight to America, ended up staying with us. This relationship with that Dutchman lasted a year. After this, my mother remarried and had two daughter with him. This relationship has since also ended. I have never met my biological father and my mother has always been very reticent in talking about him. At one point I went to search for him myself. I thought I’d found a brother, too, but after a DNA test realised that this was not the case. My father is Lebanese, so I’m not just Liberian, I’m half Lebanese.
My mother now lives in Norway. I’ve lived in Scandinavia myself for a few years. I came back to take care of my grandmother. I was mainly raised by here, in the old-fashioned way. Respect for your parents is of high priority. Children should only speak when spoken to. You’re not to argue, and you’re not allowed to have an opinion as this does not show respect. I always argued, and my family shouted at me, saying I had become too Westernised. My other African friends tell me they go through the same thing. There’s even a Facebook page called ‘Growing up with African Parents’ with loads of hilarious examples, and I can see my own family in these. My mother’s ancestors are freed slaves who left America and set up the country of Liberia. My grandmother’s grandfather was Charles Dunbar Burgess King, previously president of Liberia.
My days are filled with taking care of my grandmother, going to school, going to the shooting club and more recently, going five times a week to the sports school. I want to apply for work at the fire service and want to lose a few kilos before I do so.
I live in Zuidoost and often hear from people that this is a dangerous area. I don’t think that at all. I walk through it at four in the morning without a care. My friends tell me, ‘Yeah, but you’re pretty big and have tattoos’, but that’s stupid. It is all in how you behave. If a man shouts, ‘Hey, gorgeous”, I ignore him and carry on walking, with my head held high.”
75 people in Amsterdam have the Liberian nationality.