Apr. 6, 2016
…“You know, we hear a lot about how the Arabs are a fragile community that suffers, but we, ‘ les blackies,’ are discriminated against, too, and we hurt nobody,” Atoba said at the beginning of a night out in Matonge, the vibrant, scruffy Congolese quarter in the centre of Brussels named after Kinshasa’s business district….
…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 50,000 or 60,000 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.
Although only a couple of kilometres apart, the streets of Matonge have a much different vibe than those of Molenbeek. The Arab district is quiet and, at least these days, on edge because of constant sweeps by police hunting suspected terrorists.
Matonge is alive with night club sandbars crowded with high-spirited A fricans speaking 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….”