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Uptown neighborhood-African immigrants' first point of call

Uptown neighborhood-African immigrants' first point of call

By Joseph Omoremi/editor
CHICAGO-The Uptown neighborhood has virtually become the first point of call for African immigrants.

Virtually everything in Africa could be found in this neighborhood. And virtually every African born residents across Chicago land had at one time or the order reside in this neighborhood.

Until the property boom of the Clinton era, many of these African care less to own property or buy a property to house their shops.

The conventional wisdom then was we are here for the American dream and will soon be heading home. Twenty or more years after, these Africans are still slugging it out in the city and across America.

At a time, Africans could be seen in every nooks and crannies of the north side. Even, the property that now house Borders book stores was assigned for Nigerian-Americans during the hey days of Nigerian National Alliance (NNA) to build a cultural center until Alderman Helen Sheller allegedly frowned against it.

The city further introduced legislations barring parking taxicabs in residential street and this gradually forced many Africans to relocate further west and other parts of the city.

The gentrification of neighborhood in recent years also put paid to many apartment renters to either relocate, buy a property or pay rising housing rent.

Many relocated, yet African restaurants continue to spring up in the north side.

Vintage African dishes from Ghana and Nigeria abound in restaurants on the north side. Recently, Bolat was seen helping Mama Osa serve her customers at her new restaurant on Wilson Avenue.

Why the boom in the North-side and not other strategically located areas like O?Hare and Midway airports where thousands of Africans work and do business 24 hours 365 days every year?.

O?Hare and Midway locations are two locations that had been ignored for years.

Yet, many Africans drive cabs and take customers to these two important airports everyday and are forced to eat sandwiches because there is nothing African around.

Just like Bolat had demonstrated that African Cuisine could survive and prosper in Wrigley Field neighborhood, there must be a way to establish one in these locations.

As news reports showed how Senator Barack Obama wrote recommendation letters to indicted campaign contributors, he and many elected officials can do same for a legitimate enterprise at O?Hare and Midway.

The revived United African Organization (UAO) and Continental African Chamber of Commerce will be willing to help in this area.

It is the next challenge and easy way for empowering our struggling community.


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