Harlem’s Little Senegal Loses Residents

Immigrants at the Senegalese Association (Photo via The Uptowner)

Immigrants at the Senegalese Association (Photo via The Uptowner)

Little Senegal, the community center around West 116th Street, is shrinking slowly as rising rents in Harlem price immigrants out of the area – and sometimes prompt them to head home to Africa, Michelle Arrouas reports in The Uptowner.

On a recent night, Malick El Hadji, known as Malick Tall, was answering the phones at WPAT-AM’s “African Global News,” a weekly broadcast that serves as a hub of community new and activity.

“Little Senegal is still a hangout, but people are moving away from the area. It’s too expensive to live there, so we have to try a bit harder to keep in touch,” El Hadji says, alternating between English and French.

According to The Uptowner, “the Senegalese Association estimates that 20 to 30 percent of New York State’s roughly 16,000 Senegalese immigrants, historically concentrated in Harlem, have left the area in recent years as gentrification has caused rents to soar and African businesses to close.”

Kaaw Sow, office manager and the only full-time employee of the Senegalese Association, fears that Little Senegal won’t exist in 10 or 20 years.

Finding employment is difficult, exacerbating the problem of dealing with rising rents.

Many Senegalese immigrants speak little English and struggle to find jobs outside the French- and Arabic- speaking Little Senegal.

Prominent Senegalese restaurants have closed within the last few years, several – including Dibiterie Cheikh, Kaloum Restaurant, Salimata Restaurant and Africa Kine – this year alone, Sow says.

Read more accounts from members of the community in The Uptowner.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *