Africa in Paris

Authored by:
Darnell S.

Darnell S.

 

When I planned to come to Paris I knew that I wanted to explore the African culture and influence that Paris has to offer its habitants but I was not very sure just how I wanted to do that. I mean, I packed my dashiki for a reason and I was determined to wear it in France! French black people are approximately between 3–7.5% of the French population. French Black people or Black people in France are people who are of black African, Afro-Caribbean, or Melanesian ancestry. I researched how I could immerse myself in the African and black community while in the country and was elated to find so many tours and program that explore just that. I was extremely fortunate enough to come across Little Africa Paris, a tourist company founded and operated by Jaqueline Ngo. From the official website, I learned that through various promotion, Little Africa has helped put Africa at the center of issues related to art and culture in Europe, replacing Paris as the mecca of African cultures and the African diaspora as a real asset. Jaqueline says that tourism and culture are the focus of [her] project where Africa is portrayed in a new light: that of creativity, dynamism and innovation. I was thoroughly impressed and intrigued to see what Little Africa had to offer me while I was here. I could not schedule a tour on such short notice but lucky enough for me Jaqueline wrote a city guide for Africa in Paris. I decided that I would purchase this extraordinary guide and curate my own tour of Africa in Paris.

For this #ParisianMoment of mine, I will discover the most perfect gems that Africa in Paris has to offer. From the Little Africa headquarters to the various shops, galleries and even restaurants featured in this guide, Paris is overflowing with astonishing places to promote and uphold the beauty that is the African influence in Paris.

Above is an image of the actual city guide produced by Little Africa.

The first stop in my journey was the actual headquarters of Little Africa. I think it’s important to note that their headquarters is not an actual place to visit, but merely a place where they curate and hold their products and conduct business. I found this out as I subtlety rang a doorbell and an intern hesitantly answered the door. I was invited in and to my surprise, Jaqueline herself greeted me and I was almost at a loss for words. She was such a warm soul and we instantly had a connection. I explained to her that I was student studying in France but what I was studying had nothing to do with the African history within the city. She was surprised that I had been here for a month and hadn’t reached out but nonetheless excited that I took the time to find her establishment. Her office was covered with Little Africa merchandise which made me so happy because as soon as I explored the products I couldn’t just purchase the guide. Jaqueline told me about how she got started and where she planned to take her business and the States were on the list. I assured her that if I could ever get her to the University of Alabama she would not regret it for one moment. Jaqueline learned that I was learning French back home so she put me to the test by asking her intern whom only spoke French to assist me with my purchases but of course Jaqueline was there to help. After speaking with Jaqueline for about twenty minutes and basically falling in love, she was more than happy to personally sign my city guide book and give me a complimentary button. In her message to me, she says “on est ensemble” which translates to “we are together” which is an ancient African saying. She explained to me that wherever we are, as black and african people, no matter what we’re going through or how we feel, we are always together. I went on my way with the official Africa in Paris city guide along with a canvas bag and French quote postcards but not before a quick photo with the author and curator herself. See below! 

This is Jaqueline Ngo and I at the Little Paris headquarters located in the 8e arrondisement. I genuinely thank Jaqueline for her company and what she is doing for the African heritage and everything she has planned. Before my departure, she told me about an African fashion art gallery that I must check out so that was my first official stop of my own personal tour of Africa in Paris.

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