Friday, March 19, 2010

African clubs in Israel

Interesting short article about African clubs in Israel:

'On a chilly Friday in a basement on a graffiti-lined street, about 100 African men and a handful of women move to upbeat, deep-voiced Nigerian music. Red and green disco lights swirl overhead. Bolli Impanem wears a red-and-white soccer jersey as he flits between dance floor and DJ stand.

“I don’t go to Israeli clubs,” says Mr. Impanem. He moved to Israel in 2000 from Nigeria to play soccer for Hapoel Beer Sheva, a pro club, but stayed when he married a Dutch woman. "Somebody slapped me once at a club and it was embarrassing.... So I made a place for me to dance.”

Israel’s African population numbers about 20,000, although no exact figures exist because of illegal migration. First, Ghanaian migrant workers came in the 1980s, followed by other laborers. Today most Africans in Israel are asylum-seekers from Sudan and Eritrea...

... Impanem’s basement disco is camouflaged. The heavy metal front door is down a staircase at the back of a nondescript, fluorescent-lit driveway. For Nelone Key, a South African without working papers, the basement is a place to forget about his frustrations, such as not finding a job despite a university education. “I just like to dance sometimes,” he says.

Full article: Christian Science Monitor, 16 March 2010.

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