“I come from a large family with six girls and one boy. Apart from one sister we all live in the Netherlands. I am the youngest. When I was six we left Congo to live in Gabon. Four years later we left for the Netherlands, arriving at Schiphol. It was huge and busy, that’s what I most remember. We were put into a refugee centre in Medemblik and after a year were offered a house in Hoogkarspel. This is where I grew up until I went to Amsterdam in my twenties to study. In Hoogkarspel I was one of the few foreign children. When I came to Amsterdam I was immediately aware of the diversity here. You always find people you like.
One of the differences between the cultures of Holland and the Congo is the way in which you introduce partners to your parents. I see the ease in which Dutch kids introduce their boyfriends or girlfriends to their parents. My parents would not be happy about this. Only if a relationship has been going on for some time should you take your partner home. It is always possible that even a long term relationship ends and you find someone new. In this regard, my parents aren’t particularly difficult. But in general, you shouldn’t bring every new boyfriend home.
I am often asked where I come from. People mostly guess, “from Suriname?” And if I say Africa, “from Ghana?” Not much is known about Congo. Congo is made up of Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville. I’m from Brazzaville. Personally, I don’t see much of a difference between the two. Definitely not culturally, and French is spoken in both areas - although in Kinshasa they speak with a different accent. Like Flemish, I suppose. The Congolese part of me likes to dance. Dance is part of Congolese culture. I don’t cook, but if I visit my parents I always eat pondu. This is a dish made from baked cassava leaves. Delicious.”
48 people in Amsterdam have the Congolese(-Brazzaville) nationality