17 sty 2011

Africa in Warsaw

For the last 60 years Poles haven’t been used to see people of colour and to have foreign neighbours. Democratic changes in 1989 opened the borders and since that time more and more people come to Poland. For many foreigners Poland is a transfer country on the way to the Western Europe but also starts to be more attractive. The Polish law is not inviting for foreigners but probably it’s because Poles make it complicated also for themselves. If you feel discouraged by the amount of papers you need to sign, bring and give to the authorities, I assure – we also have got to do this.

In Warsaw we are used to eat in Vietnamese, Chinese, Turkish and Arabic bars or buy on multiethnic bazaars. Still we need to be more welcoming for people from Africa. You won’t see many of them on the streets but they start to come more often. I would like to know more about how they feel in Warsaw. When I spoke to my students from Nigeria, they said they didn’t feel accepted in the public space. Of course it’s easier to describe negative experiences. When people are neutral and treat you normally, you don’t think about it. If you can write me something about it, please comment!

You can eat African food in a few places in Warsaw, I recommend Senegalese Cafe Baobab. Hmmm veal in peanut sauce was perfect... I must also visit Home Africa Bar. There is also a lot of multicultural events promoting African cultures. I was happy to see an interesting book about the lives of Africans in Warsaw “Afryka w Warszawie. Dzieje afrykańskiej diaspory nad Wisłą”. You will find there fascinating stories of unusual people. The whole book is available for free in pdf here and you can also buy a printed version.

Now for the first time we have a member of parliament from Africa. John Godson is a pastor from Nigeria, has been living in Poland since 1993 and was a radny (alderman) in Łódź. People chose him for the second term because he did a lot for his community. Now he is in Sejm! I hope more foreigners will influence the Polish law. I think he won’t be angry if I put his video here. His Polish is great and kids are lovely.

How to describe Africans in Polish?

Afrykańczyk/Afrykanka – African
Murzyn/Murzynka (from Latin "maurus" = black) – black person. Many people find this word offensive, probably because in Polish we have a few sayings with it to describe hard thankless work. I don’t agree. There are other offensive words.
czarny/czarna - black
czarnoskóry/czarnoskóra – of black skin

2 komentarze:

  1. Great video. Gives me much hope for Poland...
    Not to generalize too much, but in my experience Africans are, on the whole, the greatest linguists on the planet. In many societies, especially the matrilineal ones, spouses move to another village where they are expected to learn the local language, or at least dialect. In addition, they already know the languages of neighboring tribes or ethnic groups, specialized languages, such as those used for trade or diplomacy, and at least one European language, French, English, Portuguese, or whatever was left over as the Lingua Franca by past colonial powers.
    No wonder John Godson was able to become fluent in Polish so easily.

  2. Ryszard, come to Poland for holidays:)