This is The Netherlands. The weather is nothing short of excellent. Not too hot, not too cold, just perfect. I’m booked for three cities: Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Dronten. I’m engaged in a series of consultations related to migration and issues around it — my interest in people and technology is aligning well this summer. Out of a usual curiosity for tourism, I added Den Haag (The Hague) to the list. These four locations are not really similar, except that they are all a few hours away from each other.
In Rotterdam, you get the American feeling, the skyrise buildings, the energy and endless vibes — the street shows were exciting. I had asked one of the persons I was consulting on this trip, ‘Why is Rotterdam so different from Amsterdam,’ and the reply was something along the line of — modern Rotterdam is a new city, built after the world war. Amsterdam and Den Haag give the colonial vibes on the other hand, with wealth plastered all over the walls of the magnificent buildings and around the canals, that will strike that one idea, colonialism was such a good business for these guys, and the predating slavery, a topic for later.
Then there is Dronten, a small town near Amsterdam, not a place a lot of people visit, but there’s an interesting home located there. It is interesting just to me, for both personal reasons and reasons of a wider interest. At Dronten, I visited the home provided by ‘these Europeans’ to support those affected by the Russian war in Ukraine. In this home, you find of course Ukrainians, you find Africans of different nationalities and other persons who were affected by the ongoing war and had sort refuge in The Netherlands. I couldn’t help but resort in my heart and declare, ‘thank you Europe, thank you The Netherlands.’ Maybe, there’s no atom of hypocrisy in tackling migration issues or climate issues after all.
Back to Amsterdam, it is a vibrant city. I think there are more people than the city can accommodate. The crowd at the city center is something else, I mean, there was no special event going on, no big entertainment shows or any of such things that could easily attract a crowd, but for some reason, you need to join a queue to grab an ice cream and must walk slowly to connect to the other part of the bridge. And then, it dawned on me: many people in this crowd are just tourists.
Guess what they are here to experience — the wealth from colonialism.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, the cities have been long built, and they have done a good job of preserving the colonial evidence. Lol. Yeah, I think these are solid evidence that testifies to the losses of the colonized. And by extension, the consequences that in many ways have created massive migration of people towards the West. This in no way discredits the creations and innovations of ‘these Europeans,’ but it highlights that the problem and narratives making migration a subject of concern in Europe is a creation of not just an economic, political, or environmental disruption in migrants’ home countries of the moment, but a long history of an unequal world deprived of inclusivity and collective progress. We must decolonize. First, start with our minds and approach to issues in migration.
I think many Europeans and their leadership are still hypocrites when it comes to the concerns of migration and climate change. But I want to highlight the little things that are making the differences and progress we seek. My first place of visit in Amsterdam is a café that only employs refugees and undocumented migrants. Isn’t that interesting, a business is dedicated to survival that screams only an equal and inclusive society can progress. Progress and support that is achieved without exploiting the workers. Beautiful. My Dutch contact, whom I was consulting had invited me to this place. She narrates how she became a champion fighting for the rights of migrants/refugees and an inclusive, progressive Europe. She was just this young girl, living like most Europeans with little concern for the true situation of being a migrant. This changed when she fell in love with a migrant. And then it was the dawn for her, the life of a migrant is almost a living hell in the midst of plenty. I think we all don’t have to wait to fall in love before we join the fight for inclusivity. I doff my hat to all the Europeans who want nothing but a progressive, equal world. We are making progress.Also published here: https://medium.com/@amaraizugenius/i-think-europeans-are-hypocrites-but-eb2dde8d194f