Since the mid-1980's a large number of the African working class immigrated to a particular area of Harlem (116th Street between St. Nicholas and 8th Avenues). This neighborhood encompasses many African cultures such as people from Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mali and Senegal. The primary language in this Harlem community is English although many of these people also speak French and their native African tongues. Senegalese natives make up the majority of Africans in this area.
Preserving this language helps unify and strengthen the small three blocked community in Harlem known as 'Little Senegal'.
Little Senegal: Africa in Harlem
by MariÃ¨me O. Daff
Malcolm X Boulevard, America's Dakar!
Most French people discovered the existence of this little enclave in the heart of Harlem where a large African community lives thanks to Rachid Bouchareb's latest film Little Senegal. Alloune, a retired Senegalese man played by the BurkinabÃ¨ actor Sotigui KouyatÃ©, comes to New York to find his family's descendants brought here as slaves. Turning up on his illegal taxi driver nephew's doorstep in this "revisited" Harlem, Alloune discovers a world where his African brothers and American cousins live side-by-side without actually mixing. This is a daily reality in this part of New York where the African population has grown considerably.
The neighbourhood is known as "Little Senegal" as it is mainly Senegalese immigrants who have settled there. Although a recent and as yet poorly documented immigration, it's nonetheless a big talking point. According to the Senegalese journalist Dame Babou, "no one really knows their number. Some say 10 000, 15 000 or 25 000 in New York alone. I reckon that there are a lot more than that! It's impossible to know with all the illegal immigrants. What is certain is that it's a predominant group that represents more than half the African immigrants here."
Little Senegal (2002)
This beautifully photographed, touching film follows Alloune, a man who gives tours of the Senegal coastline where long ago his ancestors where imprisoned and shipped across the Atlantic in the slave trade. (...) Finally his search leads him to New York City, where he locates a young nephew, and then a female cousin who is about his same age, in her fifties. Taking a job for his cousin as a security guard at her Harlem newspaper stand, Alloune begins the difficult task of adapting to city life. The relationship between Alloune and his cousin starts off as professional, changes to family relation, and finally ends up as a love affair. However, the distance between Africa and New York, history and present, can never be escaped or forgotten.
This film screened in New York City in April 2002 as part of the Avignon/New York Film Festival organized by the French Institute Alliance Francaise.
No Commission, Please, We're British...
... could have worked a third. Today my wife worked in the film "Little Senegal" for 1 1/2 hours and is getting $105.00. If you are in ...
nyc.announce - Apr 22 2000, 3:17 am by Ray/Rita Normandeau/Frazier AFTRA-SAG - 2 messages - 2 authors
28 July 2003, New York Times, "In Harlem's Fabric, Bright Threads of Senegal" by Susan Sachs, pg. B4:
Along 116th Street in central Harlem, in the few blocks that have become known as Little Senegal, the Mourides' bond with home is spelled out on shops and businesses named for Touba.