African immigrants arriving in Philadelphia tend to settle in the same neighborhoods as friends and family members who came before them. This “chain migration” creates pockets of different populations around the area – many Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, and Ethiopians live in Southwest Philly, for example. Sudanese tend to settle in either West or Northeast Philly. There is a small Kenyan population in Norristown. And a number of Eritreans live in Lansdale.
Community meeting places – churches, groceries, restaurants, and community centers – are usually established in these same neighborhoods. This concentration of people and services facilitates the frequent interaction of community members. In many ways, Africans prefer to remain inside their communities.
“If you miss the community, you just stop by the Benkady restaurant. There are always people.”
- Ivorian immigrant
But African immigrants also interact with Philadelphians at large, that is, outside their communities. This interaction happens in the workplace and through the mutual cultural and religious activities that are becoming more common in Philadelphia.