The Observing Citizen

by Ed'son de Pary

During a political debate in the Netherlands, right-wing politicians couldn’t help it pointing at foreigners as origin of all the flaws’ in this country. Political leaders like Marc Rutte (VVD), Geert Wilders (PVV) or Rita Verdonk (TON) said foreigners who do not want to participate in this society should be shown the doorway or shot in their knees.
It’s true, there some bad apples out there, who do not want to make any effort to achieve something in their own lives, there are others who do a lot, but only for the interest of the own country of origin; I mean, they work and send all the profits back home.  However, during this whole debate, no one said anything about the walls and glass ceilings foreigners come across when the try to participate in this society. Take for example those looking for a place in a university or some college, seeking a job or at the locket of public services. At all these places we time and again come across close doors, or bizarre treatment because we don’t look alike.
Those are all realities not taken into account when politicians ask citizens of non-European decent to participate in this society.
A while ago, I went to the Rabobank to open a new bank account; the bank director kindly informed me that, contrary to my Dutch friends, I was only allowed to have an account without credit allowance, because I am a non-European citizen.  It was very frustrating for me, because I saw myself making an effort to participate, but was stopped short selectively.
I carried on, went to a computer store to buy a Macintosh computer. This store had a sales, whereby you could purchase a PC, get a €100 value gift-card, and pay in ten different installments. I said to myself, this is my chance. So I registered with all the required documentation needed, I was refused that possibility, because, again, I am not from western decent they told me.  I took my frustration once more home and started to wonder how big and deep the gap between the politicians who ask us (non-European citizens) to participate, and the reality, the people actually responsible for enhancing the required taken measures.
The direct consequence of my little experiences, and surely that of many others out there, is that; to fully participate as a non-Western citizen in the Dutch society, you need to forcefully apply for the Dutch nationality. I emphasize on ‘Forcefully’.
Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I am not interested in becoming a Dutch citizen. My theory of become citizen of a country is that, you have to give your heart to that country, so, I don’t see how one could give his or her heart to several countries at the same time.
I am a Cameroonian citizen, and I love my country very much, I want no other passport than that of Cameroon. Now, I am faced with a couple of choices; I could migrate to somewhere else where there is no discrimination based on peoples’ nationality, I could apply for the Dutch nationality, or I could simply chose not to participate in this society.

The facts cited above leads to the next national discussion in the Dutch society; the question of double nationality. Facing so many blocks, I could imagine someone applying for the Dutch citizenship for all the wrong reasons. When my economical situation or that of my family is out in question, I could apply for citizenship, because it comes with certain benefits. So you create a new category of citizens who simply became citizens for practical reasons.
Don’t get me wrong when I say I love only Cameroon, I mean by that, that I am a patriot (sometimes firmly nationalist) and therefore only loyal to my country. It doesn’t mean that I do not like the Netherlands, I really do, that’s why am here in the first place, but ‘like’ & ‘love’ are very distinguish adjectives.
Having faced these contradictions on the field myself, I became aware of the bitter sense of reality most politicians in the Netherlands lack, when trying to score political points. During the discussion about the double nationality, no one, not even the media evoked these types problems non-Europeans come across when trying to participate in this society, no one even mentioned discrimination during recruitments, etc, because most people involved in societal discussions have never been faced with the reality of what they are talking about. It’s really a pity to see people jeopardize important issues for the sake of populism.