Let me preface this post by saying, as a Black American and first generation Nigerian-American (my mom was born and raised in Nigeria and became a U.S. citizen, while I was born and raised in New Jersey and have been to Nigeria a few times), I have a unique experience as a Black person in Brussels.
While I was raised in America, I was raised in a Nigerian home. I cook Nigerian food, I was taught Nigerian traditions and values. My ancestral origin is known and my sister and I are the first in the family to be born in America.
I think if I were a Black American that did not have ties to my ancestral history (i.e. if my ancestral origin were unknown because of slavery) I feel that I would have a different relationship with Africans (abroad).
I’m in a hybrid space where I am American by nationality and Nigerian (and American) by culture. That said, Matongé was everything that I needed. I was so happy to see so many Africans. I would say most, if not all, of the black people I’ve met thus far are from Africa…well we’re all from Africa…but what I mean is, they were born in a country in Africa and emigrated to Brussels… and then of course there’s the whole Belgium colonizing the Congo…
Matongé is named after an area in the Congo and is known as the “African part of Brussels.” To get there you can take the metro to Porte de Namur or Louise. Luckily for me, my new friend Kristie, who is Belgian-Congolese, she was born in the Congo and is a Belgian citizen, was a gracious friend and tour guide.
If you are a like me (nationally and culturally) here are some things you’ll find helpful:
– THEY HAVE PLANTAINS #WePraiseGod
– Magi cube
– Braiding hair & hair braiding shops
(be careful about your edges if you don’t have experience with getting your hair
– Natural hair products : EDEN BodyWorks, Shea Moisture, Camille Rose Naturals, Eco
Styler gel (with coconut oil), YOU NAME IT. And they’re reasonably priced. I recommend
shopping before purchasing your hair products because some stores were ridiculously
over priced (17 Euro for brand name shampoo, vs 13 euro for EDEN BodyWorks
Brussels definitely and absolutely has products for black women. Unexpectedly, I would say they may even cater more to us than they do in Ann Arbor (where I went to graduate school).
We also went shopping at Bershka; there were so many stylish and affordable clothes that fit my tall AND curvy shape (hips, butt, thighs, AND the length of my legs (I’m 5’8)).
And the best part of the day was eating at Mère Mamou, an authentic Congolese restaurant in Matongé. The food was SO BOMB and I highly recommend it.
Stay tuned! I’m editing the video of our adventures and I’ll post to my YouTube channel (YouGoChi) soon!