Social Life

Social Life

Immigrants are especially pleased to socialize in ways they would at home. This includes informal tea and coffee drinking, cooking and eating together, and attending each other’s weddings, baptisms, and funerals. Dances are always a joyful event! Through familiar music and movement, they recreate the home atmosphere, and people often comment nostalgically afterwards that the event “felt just like being back home.”

When communities congregate, they like to listen to music from home. This music may be bought on trips back to Africa, or at special shops in Philadelphia, New York, or Washington D.C. Sometimes, live musicians provide music.

Groceries are not only places to buy familiar foods and other products.  They become gathering points for conversation about politics and people at home. Since most immigrants continue to eat African dishes, they buy ingredients either at African groceries (Nigerian, Sierra Leonean, Liberian, or Ivorian), or other "ethnic" groceries, such as those run by Asians or South Asians. Video and music stores, as well as restaurants, also act as meeting points for community members.

Some groups have taken to very American kinds of socializing. They may have picnics in public parks, and swimming and ski outings with their children.  Some families, such as the Sharif family from Tanzania, have begun to observe American holidays with other immigrants, such as the first Thanksgiving in Philadelphia they celebrated with Iranian friends. The Kenyan Women’s Investment Club meets regularly to make group investments in the stock market and to provide a social outlet for its members.

African Men socializing LOGO

Socializing at the Baltimore African Market

Ethiopian coffee LOGO

Serving coffee at an Ethiopian Community Association of Greater Philadelphia picnic

ivorian women at dance LOGO

Ivorian women at soireé dansante (dance party), organized by L’Association des Femmes Ivoiriennes de Philadelphie

Sudanese women picnic LOGO

Women at Sudanese Society picnic, Fairmount Park

Kenyan women LOGO

Kenyan Women's Investment Club