African Immigrants Find Home in the Bronx

Moon Light African Market, an African store in the Bronx. (Photo by Kimberly Bonds via Feet in 2 Worlds)

Moon Light African Market, one of numerous African-run stores in the Bronx. (Photo by Kimberly Bonds via Feet in 2 Worlds)

In an audio podcast for Feet in 2 Worlds, executive producer John Rudolph speaks with social worker Kimberly Bonds about the “newer immigrants” in the Bronx – the African community, with most coming from West African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and Sierra Leone.

With well over 70,000 African-born immigrants, the Bronx is home to the largest concentration of African immigrants, more than any other borough, with the newcomers settling in neighborhoods like Parkchester, Highbridge, Tremont and Morrisania.

The podcast is interspersed with interviews with African immigrants as well as a visit to the Islamic Cultural Center in Parkchester. Run by African Muslims, it boasts the only full-time Islamic school in the Bronx and is involved in interfaith programs.

Why do Africans settle in the Bronx? According to Bonds, the family and community networks already rooted in the borough bring in many new African immigrants, who start businesses, build mosques and churches, and found schools. A “less obvious” cultural marker they bring to the area is that of Nollywood – modestly-funded Nigerian-made movies – at least in video form. 

At one point the conversation turns toward the struggles of African immigrants, both within the community and outside it – including their concerns about recent hate crimes and the fatal shooting of Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo in 1999.

Bonds talks to a Nigerian immigrant who reflects on being “lumped in” with African Americans, with whom she doesn’t identify. For Africans, ethnicities and clans, rather than race, determine identity.

Bonds also touches on the underreporting of community hardships, with many reluctant to discuss their problems in public or in the media. As a social worker involved in the community, she uncovers reasons for this hesitation.

Head to Feet in 2 Worlds to listen to the podcast.

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  1. Pingback: Welcome2TheBronx | JFK Lived Here & More Tidbits About The Bronx

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