Chapter 17: Level by Level.
There were different types of how we lived in Amsterdam. It all depended on how much money you have.
Level 1: Those who rented three bed room duplex. This type of house has three rooms upstairs, then Parlour, Kitchen and toilet downstairs. It was just like the typical duplex our so called big men built back in Nigeria. The Dutch government after demolishing some of the hexagonal grid houses, had embarked on building these types of duplex. Their major intention was to attract the middle class income earners down to Bijlmer since the suburb was originally occupied by poor people. The duplex went from €1400 to €1600 depending on the area.
Level 2: This types of apartments contained three rooms and parlour but not duplexes. It was just like the typical three bedroom and parlour obtained in Nigeria. It contained three rooms, a parlour, kitchen and toilet all in the same floor. These types went as from €900 to €1200 monthly.
Level 3: These types were two bed rooms and a parlour. A typical flat apartment with toilet/s, a kitchen and others.
Level 4: These groups of apartments contained just a room and a parlour. They were specially designed by the dutch government for single men and women who were interested in living alone comfortably.
Level 5: The typical one room self-contain with toilet and kitchen, specially made for students everywhere in the World.
We had Nigerians in every level of the houses in Amsterdam. There were some big boys who pushed large amount of drugs daily or weekly or every two days depending on how rich they were. These group hardly allowed anyone into their circle. They saw newcomers as nuisance forgetting that there was a time they were also new comers. They also paid up for small apartments elsewhere, where they measured and inspected drugs before moving them. These group hated the next group who lived in the ordinary three bedroom flats. They were almost in direct competition. The second group hated the first ones as well. The two groups hated the third group, the three groups hated the fourth group which comprised of newcomers and people with little or no capital.
On Sundays, they would all go to the same Church. On Saturday Morning, you would see all of them trying to play football in the same field too.
On Saturday morning, if you belonged to group one, you were guaranteed to play whether you knew how to play or not. If you belonged to group two, you would play as well. But the group three and four would either play later or watch the fat group one group play. There also some group of aspiring footballers who came to Europe to play football but somehow ended up not getting resident permit on time. In Europe, if you didn’t have the documents, no club would look at you unless you are extra ordinarily good. The European made some laws that restricted the immigrants to second class human beings. My fellow Africans knew this but poverty and embezzlement back he didn’t help matters. Since i Belonged to the last group, i never bothered to play football. They won’t chose me. They didn’t know me. I was a nobody. I was just one of those people who came to disturb the big boys. The self-acclaimed big boys would snub you with every little opportunity they got. We Blacks were hated by the Surinames and Antilleans who were also blacks. We Africans were also hated by the whites who owned the land. The worst of it all was that we hated ourselves.
No matter what you were going through, nobody would be willing to give you any money to solve your problems, rather they would talk about how silly you were for getting yourself into the mess in the first place.
As i stood in the middle of the field one Saturday morning, a man called me.
He said he was looking for someone to give one room in his three bedroom flat. He asked me to help him locate a good person. I didn’t want to tell him that i wanted a place, we just exchanged phone numbers and went our different ways.
Two days later, i called him. His name was Chidi but i called him Oga Chili. He lived in a house called Kikkenstein; another of the large hexagonal grid houses built by the Dutch government. Kikenstein had 1000 apartments in a 10 storey building. There were many Nigerians living in the building.
When i called Oga Chidi two days later, he asked me to come to Kikenstein. Oga Chidi lived with a woman he claimed to be his wife. They had no children yet. He lived there with Spanish resident permit as was hundreds of other people.
”Let me show you the room” he said.
I followed him to a neatly decorated room with bed, electric heater and a table. It was such a nice hideout. He said that i would be paying €300 monthly which was a good deal. However, my little concern was that i didn’t know what he did. I needed a place where drugs flowed in and out. Another glitch was that his so called wife was still very young. She was in her early twenties. I was never going to approach her but what if she approached me? I believed i was going to reject her approach but sometimes things didn’t work out the way we wanted. I wanted to know why Chidi approached me in the first place. The way it worked in Amsterdam, one can only approach a person he knew very well if he wanted t give out a room. But Chidi had approached me.
Since we paid monthly, i decided to take the place. If things didn’t work out after one month, i would definitely move.
I paid him for the house and told him that i would move in the next day. He was happy. Oga Chidi was from Enugu State too. He was from Nkanu Area. According to him, he had lived in Europe for 15 years, had gotten Spanish documents three years earlier and had decided to relocate to Amsterdam to make money. When i got home, i told Robin that i would move the next day to a new room but that i would be visiting him whenever i wanted. We brought out a bottle of Hennessy and celebrated our scam. I had sent Junior his €500 and gave Robin his own. I had over €5000 remaining.
“Accept responsibility for your life. Know that
it is you who will get you where you want to
go, no one else.”