African Women Voices
It’s a bit hidden between Istiklal Caddesi and Tarlabasi boulevard, but there is indeed a space in the very central heart of the old city of Istanbul where you can find African music, African food, African dancers. That’s the Habesha restaurant, an Ethiopian restaurant. I’m not surprised of the cuisine of this African restaurant since I remember the words of an Ethiopian academic we met last year when filming in Los Angeles. About Ethiopian St in LA she said: “wherever Ethiopians go in the world, they open a restaurant and a church.” We still haven’t spotted the church – there are so many where Africans go! But we did find the restaurant and it was indeed interesting. Especially the dancing every 45 minutes or so: two dancers would come downstairs from a top floor club (African as well) and would dance for 10 -15 minutes for a rather small crowd. Apart from unpleasant little surprises, it was special to see such a strong African presence in a country that apparently still struggles in understanding that there are Africans, they’re not aliens, you’re not supposed to take pictures of them all the time, their colour is not something you can take off by sliding your finger on them.
I spent a month in Istanbul in 2013, and unfortunately didn’t peel the layers back on the African communities there. I wish I had heard of this Habesha restaurant you are referring to. Now I’m more excited to return someday.
Yeah, it was an interesting place, I’m sure there are others too, maybe not in the futuristic centre