“I came to Amsterdam in 1973 after fleeing from war-torn Mozambique. I had actually wanted to go to Denmark, but had problems en route. They didn’t believe I was from Mozambique - a country in the middle of civil war - but thought I was Moroccan with a false passport. So I ended up ‘stuck’ in the Netherlands.
I found it very tough in the beginning. The language was hard to understand and it was difficult finding a job. After a year of nothing but problems I moved to Portugal. I met some friends and we started a band. I’m a singer songwriter. I also play guitar and saxophone. I started another band in 1975 with some friends from Amsterdam and returned there. And now, after all these years, I can finally say, “Amsterdam is my home. Here are my family, friends and my band, which is an extension of my family”.
I fled Mozambique alone and for the first few years I couch surfed. I only returned to Mozambique after seventeen years. I hadn’t seen my family for that entire time. It was another seventeen years before I returned a second time. I feel like an Amsterdammer. I was nineteen when I left, and so I’ve been here longer than I’ve been away.
I’m happy to have met Amsterdam. It’s a very diverse city, very social, and it hosts a wide range of different cultures. Empathy, mentality, involvement in the rest of the world, and benevolence to other countries; that’s what Amsterdam means to me.
I wrote a song about Amsterdam. I sing it with a sprinkle of French words. So the song has phrases like, “mes amis des Amsterdam” and “mon amour de Amsterdam”. With a Brazilian melody. I think it fits in well with the diversity here.
12 people in Amsterdam have the Mozambican nationality