Felix

Benin

This is
Felix (1951)


Lives in
Centre (Nieuwmarkt)  

Country of Origin
Benin

 

In the Netherlands since
1970

 

Misses

Palm wine, which is made from the core of the palm tree.

Favourite place

When I first lived here it was Artis (the zoo), because I missed the tropical animals. Now it is the Begijnhof

“I was the first ever Beninese to come to Amsterdam in 1970. Since that time forty five Beninese have come here to live. I came to Europe to study, living first in Switzerland where I was not allowed to stay. Through an organisation of Dutch volunteers who I had met in Benin I arrived in the Netherlands. I fell in lovely with a wonderful woman in Amsterdam. We both lived in Jordaan; I at the top of the Lijnbaansgracht and Westerstraat, and she on the corner at the Anjelierstraat. We hadn’t seen each other as neighbours. It was only at a mutual friend’s party that we met. We are still together and have three daughters, all in their thirties now.


We now live in the Nieuwmarktbuurt, but I often go to Bijlmer. A lot of my African clients are there. I feel at home in both places. Amsterdam is special. I have travelled a lot for my work, but every time I near Amsterdam in the train or plane I start feeling freer and happier.

My method for learning the language was to go to cafes like café Winkel on the Noordermarkt, café Casablanca on the Zeedijk, the Cotton Club and the literary café, the Engelbewaarder at the Nieuwmarkt, as well as the Brouwerij ‘t IJ near the windmill in Oost. I did everything possible in order to fully integrate myself here.

I’m happy the city has welcomed me with open arms. Because of this, I feel like a proper Amsterdammer. You don’t get that kind of warmth in other countries. But I’m still African. I wear my African hat every day. “

 

12 people in Amsterdam have the Beninese nationality

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