“My father worked at Shell and we lived in Gamba in Gambon - a so-called Shell village, full of expats and a wide range of nationalities. There were also a lot of Dutch, and because of this I learnt a lot about the Dutch culture from an early age. When I was fifteen my father’s work brought us to the Netherlands and I grew up in Heemskerk and Bergen. I thought it would be an exciting experience and looked forward moving to the Netherlands. Since then, my parents have moved back to Gabon; they missed their homeland too much to stay away.
Because we lived among such a large number of Dutch expats we even celebrated Saint Nicholas. I haven’t yet made my decision concerning the current discussions in the Netherlands about the future of Zwarte Piet. There are other things in the area of discrimination that should take priority, not just in the Netherlands but in other countries, but I find it good that the subject has become an item for discussion. It is important that people consciously think about the subject and are open to change.
Whether I am discriminated against? I find that a powerful word. But as a black man in Holland you are occasionally reminded that discrimination exists and I sometimes get the feeling that I must prove myself more than the average man.
If I had to describe Amsterdam using just two phrases I would use ‘rich culture’ and ‘open mind’. You can be who you choose to be here, which is not the case in other cities.
I don’t know whether I’ll stay here. I’m presently very happy with my life here in the city. I live near to Centraal Station and think my apartment is fantastic - I really don’t want to leave it! Before this I had lived in the Kinkerstraat and in Noord. Both of them totally different areas. Kinkerstraat is my favourite. There is always something to do and I appreciate the mix of cultures. Where I am currently living is more for the tourists. But you won’t hear me complain - I think it’s a good thing, having tourists visiting our beautiful city. Maybe it’s a bit too busy, but I don’t find that a problem.”
1 person in Amsterdam has the Gabonese nationality