Words by Melanie Groves
Seven kilometres south of the central business district of Brisbane, a bustling African community thrives in Moorooka. Should you just look at the people, you may forget you’re still in Queensland. Ladies stroll casually up the street, wearing gorgeous brightly coloured traditional dresses, head scarves and shopping bags of fresh produce on their arms. Men are often seen chatting over coffee or congregating in cafes, or playing a relaxed game of pool in the recreational centre. A huge mural in the alley shows a savannah with a relaxing lion beside an echidna – highlighting the symbiosis Moorooka has found between African and Australian culture. Moorooka has unofficially been dubbed “Africa Town” by the Sudanese, Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somalian refugees that now call it home.
“Wearing gorgeous brightly coloured traditional dresses”
The hub of Moorooka is the arcade, home to shops offering African and Middle Eastern groceries, hairdressers, cafes and restaurants. To even stroll through the arcade is akin to a quick trip overseas, with the aroma of exotic spices invading your senses and unfamiliar languages being spoken around you.
“Aroma of exotic spices”
Moorooka is home to numerous restaurants and cafés offering cuisines from Ethiopia, Sudan and Eritrea. An added bonus to the food is the rich authentic cultural hospitality they offer. Reviews speak highly of the restaurants, often referring to them as hidden gems, tucked away in the arcades of Moorooka.
Just some of the restaurants in Moorooka are: Made in Africa, Yeshi Buna Ethiopian, Umdorman Sudanese cuisine and the Ethiopian African restaurant; and Coffee Shop, all of which have positive reviews online. African cuisine is traditionally meat and vegetarian stews and hot meats with salads, often with a spicy flavour. They’re all served with the traditional flat, sour-dough bread called “Injera”. While eating by hand is traditional, all restaurants offer cutlery if needed.
Moorooka is not only home to African cuisine, but also to some specialty shopping such as Kabul Bazaar, that offers many Middle Eastern and Afghani staples and delicacies. It is well worth the visit even if just to have a look around at the different things on offer.
Moorooka is a testament to second chances, a demonstration of how cultures can collide and peacefully coexist. To many Africans living in Brisbane, Moorooka is a taste of home, something recognisable and familiar. But Moorooka is not the only place available for those interested in learning more about or becoming more involved in the African community. The Queensland African Communities Council is a not for profit organisation working to unite African communities regardless of ethnic, political, regional or religious backgrounds.
The QACC holds events open to the public including an upcoming theatre workshop on the 11th of October, “Linking Generations”, which aims to “Get together and produce a theatre piece to showcase to members of the community. 2/3 workshops using drama to bring out issues faced by migrant families and give information about the law.” It’s encouraged as: ‘open to those interested in learning’!
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