To Be Myself

Innocent at Kidz Club.


  • Rebranding Blackness

Although from different countries, Elsie, Abdikafi, and Chihiro feel their belonging at Africa Center. It is somewhere they can freely ‘be’.


Elsie: Joining African Center allowed me to be myself. I almost forgot being myself when I was working in Hong Kong where it was difficult for me and actually, I think God punished me with coronavirus because He put African Center already in my way but I was skipping over it. I knew the center for a while and I used to send my kids to Africa Center but they didn’t know me! When I joined after the coronavirus hit, I felt welcomed by the people who didn’t know my name but recognized my face. I feel like I belong here, like I am in my family. I don’t think he is from Somalia, or he is from another country—no, we are a family: that’s the precious feeling I have from African Center. I knew I wanted to cook before, but I was keeping it for myself. Now I am finding that joy in sharing my food with other people and seeing they are enjoying it with the smiles on their faces because they taste something good, that is a really good reward for me. I am having a love life with Africa Center.


Abdikafi at Africa Center.

Abdikafi: Africa Center is somewhere I can define myself and I can tell my story. Within Africans and the African community in Hong Kong, or even in the world, our stories are told by someone who wants to represent us and often times it’s portrayed in a way that is not realistic or objective. Africa Center is a place where I can tell my story and my community can tell their story. African Center is also a community for me. When I came to Hong Kong, there was not a place where I connected like an African community here. We have a lot of Africans in Hong Kong, but we did not have that space where we could come together and connect with each other. We connected with the wider Hong Kong society; like I might meet someone individually in this street or another, but we did not have that kind of space, so African Center started and now we tell the world about ourselves.

Chihiro: For me, as a non-African working for African center, I feel like I can be myself, it sounds a bit strange but I feel more comfortable than I was in the community I belonged to when I was in university when I was a freshman in Japan. I was speaking Japanese, but there, I could not express what I was thinking or do I what I want to do, but here, you can literally do anything you want, you can literally say anything you want and no one will judge you; people will judge you but in a funny way.

[They all start laughing].

It’s really a safe place too, so any opinion or belief you have, you are free to express that in this place in Africa Center.