African Businesses and Entities in Belgium
Brussels has been described as the cultural crossroads of the European Union. About 70 per cent of the city’s one million residents trace their roots to somewhere outside Belgium. About 250,000 are Arabs mostly of Moroccan descent.
Another 100,000 are black Africans. Both groups moved to Belgium during the 1960s when it opened its doors to foreigners because of manpower shortages in its factories. But they live apart and lead disparate lives.
Matonge is alive with nightclubs and bars crowded with high-spirited Africans speaking a Babel of languages such as Lingala and Swahili. They frequent shops and restaurants that sell or serve goat meat, dried fish, plantain, manioc and Senegalese chicken mafe, which is served in a peanut sauce. Perhaps Matonge’s most remarkable feature is its many beauty parlours. Until late in the evening these salons are crowded with African men, women and children getting their hair styled or buying wigs.