See You Amsterdam

November 2003 -

Ashong Katai wants to use the Ghanese/Dutch film See You Amsterdam to expose the myth that riches are simply here for the picking.

The film can be seen in November in the Netherlands during the Culture Adrift (Cultuur op Drift ) festival. In Ghana the film will premiere in the capital on 21 November. A bus with musicians advertising the film will drive through the streets and a few boys will attempt to sell the video tapes of the film to as many passers-by as possible.

This is how films are sold in Ghana, during a so-called 'float'. Soap films are very popular and See You Amsterdam can be classified in this genre . The film was filmed on video, short scenes with pithy dialogues tell the story, which is full of intrigue, love and deceit.


still from See You Amsterdam (photo Jean Hellwig)

The Ghanese Nana Ama is on the way to the U.S., but because she has false papers, she gets no further than Amsterdam. She is taken in by the Ghanese community in the Bijlmer and finds work. This is the only aspect of her stay that works out easily. Nana is cheated by a Ghanese woman who refuses to pay her the black wages she has earned. The police raid the hotel where she works and arrest a number of illegal immigrants. Luckily for Nana, she arrives just late enough that day to miss the raid.

Intrigues abound in the character's love lives, too. Nana meets the Ghanese man Kweku, who returns from a trip home to Ghana to announce that he has married another woman, who in turn cheats on him as soon as she arrives in the Netherlands. Nana lives with the Ghanese man Mike, who has just had to end his marriage with a Dutch woman.

Nana's Ghanese friends criticise her for emigrating. 'It is scandalous that so many people abandon their homeland', and 'everyone thinks he can earn money and demands his percentage'. The fight between Kweku and his wife's boyfriend, in which Kweku is almost killed, is a dramatic climax that underscores the film's moral that life is not moonlight and roses.

In spite of all this See You Amsterdam is not a morbid film, because of the optimism of the Ghanese characters, who always find something to laugh about. However, the message is quite clear. Nana and her boyfriend understand; they go back to Ghana, to the place where they feel most at home.