Thriving African Communities in London and Beyond

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As a proud African, I love to meet and share with Africans wherever I go. It can be from the very small community of

I’ve always been interested in traditional African heritage, culture, and proverbs. This is why I studied and wrote my MA dissertation. It was based on the usage of Lingala and Swahili proverbs amongst East African parents in the UK diaspora. I know that sounds rather random, quirky and niche. But I think that’s the best way to describe me.

To me, Niger, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania are the countries that best embody the African culture. It is about smells, languages and heritage. These are something that I’ve been given the grace to explore. It also informs my line of work right now. I work at Migreat, the leading European online platform which helps migrants move and settle in Europe.

It’s not often you meet a Swahili and French speaking Londoner of Nigerian origin. Not that I’m unique. But the concepts of migration, intercultural relations, and cultural heritage best describe me and the family I was born into.

 

Exploring my roots around the world

As a proud African, I love to meet and share with Africans wherever I go. It can be from the very small community of African migrants in Poland and Romania to my beloved Nigerians. It can the Senegalese, Swahili and Lingala speaking East Africans in Belgium. Or even right here, in what many would deem as Africa’s most diverse diaspora city: London.

The first 16 years of my life here in the UK has led me to identify as #BlackBritish. It was until I went to Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania, where things changed.

I remember whilst I was living in Moshono in Arusha, Tanzania. I led a group of white British students to the local market. The local sellers would funnily cry out ‘Wageni wetu wamefikwa’ (Our guests have arrived). They were expecting an ‘easy ride’ for sales. I would give a Swahili response ‘Acheni ufyetele hapa. Mimi ni mgeni hapa pia’ (No gossip needed. I’m a guest here also). This would raise a few eyebrows, smiles, and curiosity.

It’s something that usually happens when a black man from one African country visits another. Especially if you’re coming from West Africa to East Africa. You become curious and can even be treated with a brief suspicion at the beginning by locals. But when you settle, they become special. That’s the reason why Tanzania is my second home to this date.

 

Working with the different African Communities in London

A similar story can be said of the East African communities in London that I work with. The African communities in London are very diverse. We have the established Nigerian, Somali, Ghanaians, and South African communities. Some of the growing African communities in London are the Congolese, Ethiopians, Kenyans etc.

When African migrants arrive here, they usually ask.

Where can I find an African tailor?

Does my visa allow me to work?

Where can I find my fellow African community?

As a African Community Manager, I manage the little details of African communities in London and beyond. It’s my personal goal to meet Africans from across the continent. I just want to make sure they’re okay in the settling in process. The knowledge of African communities in London is very important.

 

James Barnor at the London Migreat Office. He is a pioneering Ghanaian photographer who has been based in London, UK, since the 1990s.

James Barnor at the London Migreat Office. He is a pioneering Ghanaian photographer who has been based in London, UK, since the 1990s.

 

Young Professional Congolese (YPC) Diaspora London meetup group

Young Professional Congolese (YPC) Diaspora London meetup group

 

Settling in involves many things. Things like language, homesickness, financial and cultural considerations. Tanzanians say: ‘Hata katika kundi, mtu anaweza kuwa peke yake’. That means ‘Even amongst a crowd, one can feel lonely’.  This feeling is very true in many members of African communities in London.

There’s a perception from people outside of African communities in London that we are hard to reach. They are said to be not organised, hiding ourselves and our culture, and so on.

This is simply not true.

The Senegalese and Congolese are some of the most well knitted and organised communities in London today. Non-Africans do approach me for more info about the African communities in London. I will always point them to the areas of London in which they live and visit. These places can be restaurants, churches, clubs and places which constitute the hotspots.

Look forward to more of my stories and experiences with East African communities in London and beyond!

 

Beautiful African Inspired footwear for ladies

Beautiful African Inspired footwear for ladies

 

Ghanaian and Nigerian Women wearing beautiful African dresses. We sure have good tailors in London who knows how to work magic on African fabrics.

Ghanaian and Nigerian Women wearing beautiful African dresses. We sure have good tailors in London who knows how to work magic on African fabrics.

 

Ladies from different African communities in London, with their beautiful African traditional attire

Ladies from different African communities in London. They are seen with their beautiful African traditional attire

 

 

Photo credit – Tholani Alli