“I love to come to the triangle formed by the Museumplein, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein. This is where I, when I first moved to Amsterdam, often visited. The sense of community, the people, the going out. It made me forget the civil war raging in Ivory Coast. I fled six years ago. I had been arrested and thrown into prison because I was anti the current regime. I met someone in prison who helped me to escape. Amsterdam was the first place I came to, and I immediately felt a bond with this city. This is where I spoke my first words in Dutch. This is where I play football. This is where I met my Polish girlfriend - on the Rembrandtplein in Coco’s disco, a place where lots of different nationalities meet up.
I had studied ICT in the Ivory Coast, but in Holland I decided to follow a social care course. Learning languages doesn’t come easy to me, and I didn’t speak and Dutch or English. ICT jobs require English and I thought to myself, ‘First I should learn Dutch and find a course where I need to speak it a lot’. Which is why I chose social care. I’ve graduated and am looking for work. I would love to work for Doctors without Frontiers.
I hardly miss Ivory Coast. My mother left me when I was a baby and my father is dead. I miss the food, even though I’m perfectly happy eating cabbage with smoked sausage or bacon. That’s my favourite Dutch dish. My friends say it should only be eaten in the winter, but I love it all year round.
Amsterdam and Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s capital city, are a little similar. In Abidjan there are also countless different nationalities. But what I really love about Amsterdam is the freedom. You don’t have that in Ivory Coast. There are constant struggles between different cultures and religions. In Amsterdam there is a good relationship between the cultures. Whether you are Muslim, Buddhist or Protestant, there’s always a sense of community. They don’t have that in Africa.”
88 people in Amsterdam have the Ivorian nationality.