African café merges two cultures
Kafé Afrika strives to integrate immigrants, promote cuisine
Posted: October 2, 2013
Kafé Afrika is not your typical café. Maybe it's the upbeat African music floating through the air, maybe it's the friendly "you're very welcome here" greeting, or maybe it's the simple fact that it's one of the only places in Prague where an adventurous tourist or hungry local can find African cuisine. But those aren't the only reasons it is unique. The café is helping people.
Kafé Afrika is a product of Humanitas Afrika, a nonprofit organization that aims to build an understanding between Africans and Czechs and educate both groups on each other's cultures. In July, the café opened its doors with a mission to help African immigrants and refugees in Prague get integrated into Czech culture.
To accomplish this, Kofi Nkrumah, head of the Humanitas Afrika association and the coordinator of Kafé Afrika, set up a training program that African people who have legal status in the Czech Republic can apply for. "It was an idea born out of the work that [Humanitas Afrika] has been doing so far," Nkrumah said. "It was a gradual process."
Once accepted into the program, the applicants receive training in cooking and customer service, while also taking Czech language classes. After six months of working at Kafé Afrika, the trainees earn a certificate of completion and can then use the skills they've acquired to find a job.
Vojtéšská 9, Prague 1
Mon.-Fri.: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sat.: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
"Many Africans are tradesmen and tradeswomen," Nkrumah said. "When they come to Europe, they get disconnected because Europe is high-tech."
To help bridge this disconnect, Humanitas Afrika decided to center the program around a field the trainees might be more familiar with, hospitality. While preparing the African workers for the Czech market is one of the main reasons of the program, other reasons go a bit deeper than that.
"[We are] working to promote Czech and African culture," Nkrumah said. "We thought it would be a good idea to use this place as a melting point of cultures."
And it seems as though the cultures are melting together quite well. Kafé Afrika held its opening party Sept. 21 and the turnout was very successful. Czech people came to enjoy authentic African food and hear traditional African music while the trainees had the chance to interact with the locals and practice speaking the Czech they had been learning.
People talked and interacted just as Nkrumah and Gina Mžourek, who has assisted Nkrumah on the Kafé Afrika project, had hoped they would. "Other people at other tables were talking to each other," Mžourek says. "People don't normally [do that.]"
Not only has Kafé Afrika been a big hit with the local Czech population, but the European Union supports it as well. "[The café is the] first African social enterprise project being supported by the EU," Nkrumah said. "It's a big, big deal. If the EU supports it, it means we're doing something good."
Kafé Afrika isn't just doing something good; it's cooking something good, too. Dishes like fried plantains, spicy vegetable soup, and black-eyed beans with couscous are just a few of the items on the menu that target Africans as well as Europeans.
"We try to find what we can get here [in Prague] and add an African element to it," Nkrumah says. He calls it "Afro-fusion," which means "the way Africans have improvised their eating in Europe."
The café doesn't use food inspired by only one region. The trainees come from many different countries in Africa, which each adding their own flare to the cuisine the café makes. Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo are just a few of the countries represented.
Uhunwa Enotoriuwa, a Nigerian trainee at Kafe Afrika, likes that people from all over Africa are in the program."I got to know more about their countries," she says. Her favorite part of the program has been making new African and American friends, and, although difficult, she enjoys learning Czech as well."I'm not perfect, [but] I'm trying my best." Enotoriuwa says.
Lamine Diatta has had an equally positive experience as a trainee at Kafé Afrika and he likes that it has helped him become integrated into the Czech culture. "Sometimes it's not easy," he says. "[But] if you want to be open, you can develop. You can learn many things."
Although Kafé Afrika is still in its beginning stages, it seems as though its success with merging both African and Czech cultures is propelling it forward into success and longevity. "We are proud of what we have achieved," Nkrumah said. "It hasn't been easy."
"People are very happy," Mžourek said.
Jenna Moller can be reached at