Thursday 23 August 2007

Disgraceful police behaviour

Nigerian in Amsterdam

Yesterday evening I was quite up for some eating out at a Nigerian Restaurant, well in most cases it is Southern Nigerian Cuisine.

A few months ago, one of my colleagues at work took me to this joint in South East Amsterdam just around the corner from Gein Metro Station.

It has the aptly named African Kitchen moniker, though; we found on our second visit that the taxi cab we hired had no clue about how to get to the place.

A quick surfing on my PDA phone revealed the address that was then fed in the satellite navigation system and got us to our destination after doing the rounds.

Then we also had in company an English lady who quite got into the meals with much concern for the spiciness that had other African men sweating buckets.

Informal, ordinary but lovely

The setting is quite informal, no menus or strict restaurant procedures, in fact, certain clientele might be asked to pay before they are served, it is a sign of some of the rottenness our people can be up to.

The atmosphere was quite lovely, the music of the 80s when we were growing up, such memories and company, it had to be done again.

This time, yesterday, literally everyone pulled out for all sorts of reasons, but I made it with another colleague who doubles as a disc jockey on Saturdays at the restaurant.

Police racism

When we finished, my friend called up an acquaintance to cart us home in his taxi and it was there that I realised a underbelly of racial tension and hatred that gets meted out to ethnic minorities in Amsterdam.

Now, the South East of Amsterdam has more than its fair share of ethnic minorities, many from Africa represented by Ghanaians and Nigerians and then the ex-colony of Suriname.

It would also appear the police have cut their teeth on undue harassment and reckless exercise of legal privilege by haranguing these immigrants who sometimes for the fear of getting apprehended with illegal resident status exhibit more fear for the unnecessary terror unleashed in the name of keeping the law.

The taxi driver narrated an incident where the police literally tailed him for 20 kilometres, doing nothing to stop him but just following him.

It got to a stage that he stopped and the police then pulled alongside him and wondered why he was out at 3:00AM.

Well, I would not know if there was any law against ethnic minorities being out at that time, but this was enough to incense the taxi driver who does have a bit of fiery disposition when met with scenarios like this.

Bad mentoring exposed

He got out of the cab and approached the police, remonstrating about being tailed for miles and then being asked a question which was just an idle fishing exercise bordering on plain harassment.

The occupants of the police car had a man possibly in his fifties and a lad hardly in his mid-twenties, the older man conducting the witch hunt.

So, the taxi driver looked in the car and then pointed at the older man saying instead of mentoring the younger colleague in positive law enforcement his tutelage was now poisoning the innocent mind to begin harbouring hatred and dislike of ethnic minorities for no particular reason than for the thrills of supposed racial superiority.

The older man was embarrassed beyond words that all he could do was ask the younger man to drive off; one can say as serious message had been imparted.

Standing up and speaking out

But herein is a situation where the police run roughshod over the rights of ethnic minorities and display such hubris thinking they can get away with it only to meet firebrands, refuseniks or people who just know their rights and would not be pushed around.

He also narrated one instance where the police had come round to round up a few ethnic minorities and he instigated a mini-insurrection that lead to the young men being uncuffed and released.

The police should and must go about their lawful duties and in doing what is lawful, it should be fair, just and above reproach. Sometimes these standards of professional conduct are difficult for the police to maintain when they meet foreigners and that is a shame.

Eating out at

African Kitchen
Wisseloord 164-B
1106MC Amsterdam
+31 20 365 1686

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