Little Africa: A home away from Home

Everyone has heard of Little Italy and China town, neighbourhoods built by Migrants of Italy and China, filled with customs, culture, language and food. I always found that intriguing and as a student from Ghana I took that concept and decided to build my little Africa, a place I called home right here in Portsmouth.

Leaving Ghana and coming to Portsmouth was exciting yet nerve wrecking. I was put in a new environment and with the mission of starting a new life with no instructions on how exactly to settle into my new surroundings. In the words of Kwame Nkrumah “Africa is one continent, one people and one nation” and with that in mind and a nostalgic heart I sought out for anything that reminded me of the motherland.

Considering that I had no family in Portsmouth the next best option was to find friends of similar interests, origins and background. This began at the international orientation week held by the University of Portsmouth. I found friends from all walks of life and they became my family, my shelter whenever I felt the pressures of life caving in, people to form many memories with.

The next step I took in creating Little Africa was to find a place where my food cravings could be met. This search brought me to Afro Cart Foods on Kingston road, Cocos Takeaway, Mama Africa, Grace Afro Restaurant and many more that specialised in the scrumptious delicacy that is African cuisine. These restaurants nourished my body and lifted my spirits high whenever ever I found myself in a state of melancholy.

In the words of Stephanie Lahart “Natural hair is an exquisite crown”, therefore as a confident black woman I needed to make sure my crown maintained its form. On the journey to building Little Africa I needed to find a place where I could fraternise with other black women especially at an affordable price. I ended up finding small businesses such as HairbyRu, _dynastyluxelounge and BraidsbyShaewun. These student owned businesses are dedicated to providing a service to women allowing them to “have a head full of unique, healthy beauty”.

In attempting to complete Little Africa I sought more family which lead me to societies like the Afro-Fusion dance society, Afro-Caribbean Society, Somali Society and the Ghanaian Society. In joining societies, you are surrounded by many characteristics such as the ‘father figure’, ‘annoying cousin’, ‘baby sister’, ‘mother figure’ and ‘cool aunt’.

Finally!!! My Little Africa, a home away from home, was made and with that I began to settle into my new environment and start enjoying my new life. The city of Portsmouth is extremely diverse, filled with many representatives of cultures and traditions. For that reason, it was really easy to build my version of home. This made my transition even easier than I thought it could be; when transitioning to University it is important for you to be comfortable, open-minded and open to education and growth.

That’s why I suggest that you look at the positives of moving and focus on handling the situation rather than allowing the creeping culture shock, repulsive depression, overbearing anxiety to cloud your eyesight. The day I decided to build Little Africa was the day my life changed. I had decided that carpe diem was my new mantra and that in order to succeed in seizing my opportunities I needed to dry my tears to be able to adjust my focus.

Alice Asare-Konadu, Ghana