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Black to the Future – Amsterdam on Reflection by Owen Clarke

March 25th, 2018



Amsterdam, the third and final frontier in our exploration of intergenerational youth work across the African diaspora.

Arriving in the late Afternoon, at our quiet and cosy hotel, we de-bagged and made our way to the relaxed atmosphere of a diner on the South East – the mainstay of Surinam immigration to Amsterdam. Greeted with smiles and embraces from our international partners who had begun as colleagues, but who now truly felt like friends.

Despite a heavy work schedule, the next day and those that followed, continued with the enthusiasm and familiarity of a long awaited family get together.

Throughout all of our visits to museums, archives and places of cultural interest, we were received with a level of hospitality that is beyond any similar visits that I’ve ever received in London. Our Dutch hosts, who were the event organisers were treated as highly respected friends and in turn we were treated with the inferred adage of “your friends are our friends!”

Among the many insights gained during our visit, a stand out feature was a distinct sense of pride that those from the diaspora expressed, in their cultural heritage.

The young speakers seemed to embody a knowledge and understanding received from their fore-parents and were passionate about sharing and utilising that legacy within their own lives.

 I was particularly taken back by the many monuments dispersed in public spaces throughout the South East, which showed a clear visual expression of the existence of the diaspora.

This prompted me to reflect on the contrast in London, where the existence of the African diaspora has a far longer history, a larger population and which is far greater in geographical dimension.

I recall a lengthy political debate on justifying the costs and benefits of erecting a single monument in honour of Harriet Tubman within London - the heralded capital of “multiculturalism.”

But hey, just a thought.

Amsterdam was great and my next visit will be to see the tulips and canals.


Thank you UBELE!

‘Amsterdam – on Reflection’ was written by:

Owen Clarke

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