“When I’m in Africa, they treat me like a European, thanks to the way I speak and walk. I came to the Netherlands when I was five. I had run away from Angola with my parent, because of the civil war. First we arrived in Germany and applied for asylum, but this was the nineties and we were threatened a few times by neo-Nazi’s. My parents thought that Germany wouldn’t be safe, and we ended up in Holland.
I grew up in Bilthoven. Bilthoven is mainly a white town, and I had to get used to all the white faces. Amsterdam was therefore a surprise; a great mix of skin colours. I felt more at home there. Amsterdammers aren’t scared of the unknown. Many people have foreign neighbours and refugees are welcomed with an attitude that seems to say, “OK, you can join us”. Or so it felt to me.
I grew up with my motherland’s culture; the Angolan culture. In our culture, you’re not allowed boyfriends. My father always says, “The only boy I ever want to see you with is the one you’re going to marry”. I never dared to introduce a boy to him. Angolans also don’t talk about their emotions. At home they say, “Never show your weaker side”. Amsterdammers are the opposite. The often say what they think about something and how they feel about it. I needed some time to get used to this. However, now I’ve been here for a while I can speak over my own feelings much more easily. That’s probably one of the most wonderful things Amsterdam has taught me.
I’ve since begun to feel like a real Amsterdammer. I still miss Africa, which is why I started up a group called ‘Peace Inside’. I’m also working on an app which connects Africans with the Dutch. I’ve met so many different people from so many different cultures here, which wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. And I’ve learned something from all of them, and am now a much richer person because of this.”
194 people in Amsterdam have the Angolan nationality