“I didn’t know anything about Amsterdam. I’d never even heard of it. The only thing I knew was that my parents lived in the Netherlands. They moved there when I was a year old to seek a better future. Only after all the papers were in order did they come to collect me. I can’t remember much about either the journey or how I felt at the time. The only thing I do remember is that my tooth fell out on the flight and that I hid it there. That way, whoever found it would remember me.
My parents live in a flat in Bijlmer. We had to take the lift to my new home. I had never been in one and was shocked that it could fly! My new life began immediately. I started school straight away and landed in the ‘newcomers group’. Most children there already spoke relatively good Dutch, and the teacher forbade the other Ghanaian kids to speak to me in my mother tongue. Within a year I’d learned the language and moved into group five at primary school.
What I also found strange were the escalators. I still don’t like them, but have to use them when I go to school via the metro. I go to the CSB in Buitenveldert and have just done my VMBO-t exams. I’d like to go on to higher education and want to be a journalist.
The opportunities I get here would never have been provided by Ghana. They don’t have time to educate children on an individual basis at school. Life is much harder. I listen to old friends talks about financial worries or whether they have enough to eat. I can worry about other things: things which kids worry about. So I tell my parents how grateful I am to be living here.
But I still feel more Ghanaian than Amsterdammer. Probably because I live in an area where lots of Ghanaians live. In Zuid-Oost I don’t see myself as being an Amsterdammer.”
6.636 people in Amsterdam have the Ghanaian nationality