Deeply Emotional Super Diversity Mar11 2016, Amsterdam

Dat Verklaar en Beloof ik – That, I Believe and Promise

Results following our visit to the ceremony of
becoming a Dutch citizen.
Video by Elisa Grasso. Poem by Charlie Clemoes.


Before the Dutch citizenship ceremony starts there’s a video of a silent film of early-20C Amsterdam.

“Chapter repeat” appears on the video (somewhat shattering the pretence of authenticity, in a nice way).

There’s an explanation by the MC, telling them what they have to say. I don’t know Dutch. At first I thought they had to say the whole thing that was listed on the screen:

Ik zweer (verklaar) dat ik de grondwettelijke orde van het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden haar vrijheden en rechten respecteer en zweer (beloof) de plichten die het staatsburgerschap met zich meebrengt getrouw te vervullen.

Mercifully they only have to say…

Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig


Dat verklaar en beloof ik

Most went for dat verklaar en beloof ik.

Only the older ones seem to go for Zo waarlijk helpe mij God almachtig.

Tessa corrected me later, it was more the Surinamese people.

A Muslim lady removed glasses before she went to the stage.

Another guy checked the board, to make sure he said the right thing.

A Turkish man pointed to the phrase as he was saying it.

A lady carried her baby up to the stage (maybe the baby was becoming a citizen), the baby smiled, the deputy mayor stroked her cheek.

There was an interval, a singer heartily sang a few patriotic numbers.

The crowd spontaneously broke into claps but quickly got cold feet so the singer had to stoke the flames with his own clap. The crowd started up again but didn’t know what pace to go at, his claps were on the second beat, which was far too slow for the song.

After that, the declarations felt like they might be somewhat of an anticlimax.

When Marina went to the stage she was laid back, she briefly patted her hair, checking it was in place, but she was calm (I would have felt, and looked, terrified).

We all clapped loudly after she made her declaration.

Marina’s friend, a fellow former Macedonian gave her a big hug, some flowers (tulips), a bag of Tikkels (traditional liquorice drops) and took her picture with the gifts and documents in hand.

There were a few more people to go:

A man wearing a snap-back Chicago cap.

A many in massive puffer jacket (it wasn’t cold in the room).

Two brother’s (they looked alike) went up together, quite smart (against the norm, most people were casual).

A lady wearing pink Ugg boots (comfy!).

Mother and son go up together. Mother swears by God, her son goes for secular.

Husband looks on with pride as his wife goes up to the stage. She’s a severe lady.

When she returns she embraces her husband. Their daughter is there as well. Mum gives her child the official book, as child wants a look, mother slouches slightly (relief? indifference?) when she returns from her absent mind she quickly takes the documents back from her child.

An Arab man struts up to the front but once on stage he’s slightly shy.

When all that’s over, the mayor speaks on the big screen. It’s a poorly produced video, a really dodgy zoom-in, and poor quality visually.

Lovely décor: art deco chandelier, high ceiling, simple, modernist.

We had a little buffet laid out afterwards. Beer, wine, juice, bitterballen (cheesy, meaty, bread-crumbed, battered balls), haring (raw herring).

People didn’t stay long, there was a lot of herring left afterwards, so I asked the lady working the buffet what would happen to it, and then asked to take it away with me when I found out it was going to be thrown away.

She went away and emerged with tin foil and wrapped it up for me. I had some later with a noodle broth, delicious!