African Community in Kansas City
Over its history, an influx of diverse groups have contributed to the communal fabric. The last 25 years have seen an explosion of immigrants from the continent of Africa.
Visitors and residents are surprised to find that the metropolitan area is home to one of the largest communities of Africans in the Midwest. The first waves came from Nigeria, followed by Sudanese and Somalians making the latest and largest addition to the cultural fiber of the city. The Somali contingent alone numbers about 6,000. Significant populations from Kenya and Ghana have also made the area home. At present, there are 34 African countries represented in Kansas City out of 54 nations in the African continent.
CULTURE AND TRADITIONS
The Annual African Heritage Festival and Economic Summit, sponsored by the African Chamber of Commerce, is the signature festival and is held in alternating locations in early October. The festival showcases the crafts and textile work as well as the musical and culinary treasures of the various cultures.
Though lacking a central cultural center or location, the African community is making a mark. The annual Ethnic Enrichment Festival, held at Swope Park in August, provides ample opportunity for the many communities to display their cultural heritage. Ethiopian cuisine can be found in such restaurants as the Blue Nile Cafe and Mesob. Halal markets and Somalian restaurants are to be found along Lexington and Independence Avenue in the Northeast.
Religion is a significant part of the community, with many Africans belonging to either Christian or Muslim organizations. Key worship areas are the Sudanese Community Church in Kansas City, Sheffield Assembly of God and the Kansas City Baptist temple in Raytown, Neema Community Fellowship and Breakthrough Community Church in Johnson County, as well as the Islamic Center of Kansas City.
The African Chamber of Commerce serves as a key liaison among many of the communities and as an introduction hub for visitors to the area. The Chamber runs humanitarian, cultural and economic delegations to Africa geared to educate area residents about the continent and its people.