Around the World in Houston: Discovering Nigeria & West Africa

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Photo courtesy of Africa Fashion Week Houston

With a labyrinth of cultures represented in every nook and cranny of town, Houston is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in America. To celebrate this world-class melting pot, we’ll be exploring a new region of the globe through a Houston lens each week, from annual festivals and museums to restaurants and cultural experiences. Join the journey with our Around the World in Houston series.

It has been estimated that Greater Houston plays home to the largest Nigerian expatriate population in America. As such, the city is lined with ways to experience Nigerian and other neighboring West African cultures, from authentic Nigerian eateries serving up suya, ewedu, and jollof rice to West African festivals, parades, and arts.

Annual Festivals & Cultural Events

  • Houston AFRIFEST Join thousands of locals from the Houston area in celebrating the diverse cultures that span the continent of Africa through arts, music, food, and fashion. Now in its fifth year, this year’s event—held on Saturday, September 9—will bring together 70 vendors, over 15 partnering countries, international acts, a kid zone, folklore, crafts, sculptures, fabrics, music, drinks, dance, and tons of tasty eats.
  • Nigeria Cultural Parade | No Cover – This free-to-attend parade celebrating Nigeria’s independence works to foster pride and promote the cultural, civic, social and economic welfare of Nigerians. This year, the parade will be held on Saturday, September 30.
  • Nigerian Arts, Fashion & Beauty Awards Gala This annual awards ceremony and gala honors individual Nigerians and associations for their positive impact to the development and promotion of Nigeria’s rich arts and indigenous fashion styles.
  • African Fashion Week Houston African Fashion Week Houston offers a series of multicultural events, with the goal to bridge the gap in cultural diversity by bringing together and presenting fashion, culture, entertainment, the arts, and business development. This year’s events will take place from Monday, September 18 through Sunday, September 24.

Museums & Cultural Organizations

  • Arts of Africa at MenilThe African arts collection at Menil boasts over 900 examples of masks, sculptures, textiles, and ceramic and metal objects. From West Africa, masks and sculptural arts of the Bamana, Baule, Bwa, Dan, Dogon and Senufo peoples figure prominently.
  • Arts of Africa at MFAHThe Museum of Fine Art, Houston hosts diverse artworks from the continent of Africa from 500 BC to the present, with masks, sculptures, headdresses, textiles, and objects from a variety of regions, cultures, and countries.
  • Culturally Naija Formed in 2016, Culturally Naija is committed to positively enhance the image of Nigerians in the U.S., facing the broader issues facing the Nigerian community, and embracing Nigerians from all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
  • Ghana Association of HoustonThis organization serves as the umbrella organization of all Ghanaians living in and around Houston. Look out for events like group meetings, summer picnics, and Ghana Fest.
  • The Gite Gallery This charming two-story gallery shows off beautiful and unique art and artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa—including original paintings, hand-carved wooden statues, bronze sculptures, tribal masks and hats, brightly colored textiles and more.
  • Houston African Community International, Inc. A global umbrella for all Africans and African heritage groups, this group’s primary purpose is to promote, strengthen, empower, and unite all Africans and African descendants in the Houston area. Initiatives include summer youth programs, community outreach, and women’s empowerment.
  • Nigerian-American Multicultural Council This organization seeks to highlight Nigerian culture in Houston, strengthen and support local Nigerian and American communities, and expand the cultural awareness of Nigerians in Houston. Look out for cultural events, from cooking and language classes to book clubs and the Houston Afrifest.

Nigerian Food & Drink

Restaurants & Bars

  • Afrikiko RestaurantSavor the tastes of Ghana, Nigeria, and West Africa at this family-owned eatery. That means you can dig into kenkey and fried fish, goat and peanut butter soup, and yam and stew along with fried plantains and fufu, a thick dough made with cassava and green plantain flour that is an absolute staple in Western and Central African cuisine.
  • Chez Michelle Restaurant This family-owned and operated joint prides itself in serving not-so-well-known African delicacies, including but not limited to miondo, egushi, roasted whole fish, and okra soup.
  • Cafe Abuja Homestyle Nigerian cuisine is authentic and full of flavor at this local kitchen. Get fiery yam pottage, Eastern Nigerian isiewu (spicy goat head stew), jollof rice, and stewed oxtail with plantain.
  • Chopative This delivery spot brings African grub straight to your door. Get efo riro (a hot and spicy stew made with spinach and meat), jollof rice and plantain, meat pies, and grilled suya kabob.
  • Finger Licking Restaurant You’ll need to lick your fingers clean at this authentic eatery, where fufu is required for scooping up egusi, fiery chicken stew, and gbegiri soup.
  • Mea’s African Cuisine Hit this cool lounge and restaurant to dig into specialties like palm and peanut soup served with fufu and rice, yam pottage, and goat-pepper soup.
  • Sabo Suya Spot Get authentic pepper soup and jollof rice alongside suya kabobs made with kidney, gizzard, chicken, and beef. You’ll also find things like tilapia, whole hen, turkey legs, and ram.
  • Suya Hut The food at this kitchen is true to the flavors of Arewa (northern Nigeria), with traditional favorites like coconut rice, and fura da nono (millet cereal). But it’s truly all about the suya, the spicy meat skewers that are super popular in West Africa. Get the sticks with beef, chicken, shrimp or gizzard.
  • Trinity African Bar & Grille With scratch-made dishes that span the continent, this African eatery rocks everything from ngwo-ngwo (a Nigerian goat pepper soup) and suya kabobs to yam porridge and ugba (spicy shredded oil bean).
  • Unique African Cuisine Bar & Grill Hit this unassuming spot for Nigerian soups, from egusi to bitter leaf, plus fried yams and plantains, fufu, jollof rice, stewed chicken, and whole grilled fish.

Grocery Stores

  • G&J African MarketThis Northwest Houston market offers authentic African products, including freshly baked Ghanaian bread. Peruse the locally-owned shop to find everything from ground cassava and dry bitter leaf seasoning to African movies and music.
  • Onola Imports Hit this African food and grocery store to find ugba, bitter leaves, cassava and yam flours, spices like ground egusi and pepper, fresh and frozen meat and produce, and African clothing and beauty products.
  • Wazobia African Market & Kitchen Just off Westheimer near George Bush Park, this African grocery store plays home to hard-to-score, authentic products that are staples in Africa. Shop for ewedu (jute leaves), cassava sticks and flour, African sea palm oil and spices, goat meat, snacks like kilishi (Nigerian beef jerky) and more. The market even offers a full-service kitchen, dishing out eats like Nigerian designer stew, party-style coconut rice, fish-pepper soup, fufu, beef suya, and yam porridge.

Language Classes, Education Centers, Groups & Meet-Ups

  • A Taste of African Heritage Cooking Classes This series of cooking classes offers a new kind of wellness program designed to reconnect participants with vibrant ways of eating and living that once promoted the health of African American ancestors everywhere. Check the directory for classes in held in Waller County.
  • Bini Club of Houston The Bini Club of Houston is a club for all Bini-speaking people in Houston and surrounding areas.
  • Community Dance and Drum ClassesThe KoumanKe’le’ African Drum & Dance Ensemble puts on traditional West African dance classes on Sundays at All About Me Studios.
  • Houston African Djembe Drumming Classes This meetup is for those interested in learning African drumming, from the rhythms of Guinea and Mali to the Ivory Coast.
  • Umu Igbo Unite The Houston Chapter of this community group aims to provide local networking opportunities, as well as promote cultural awareness, socializing, and growth among people from the Igbo-speaking states of Nigeria.
  • West African Dance Work up a sweat with traditional West African Dance movements accompanied by West African drumming at this meet-up.

Other Notables

  • D&B African Village Arts With owners from the small West African country of Gambia, this African arts, jewelry and clothing store and gallery houses over 600 authentic pieces, some dating back as far as the 20th century.
  • Ògùn Art + Wine This Memorial Heights area art gallery and wine bar features art primarily from Nigeria and West Africa, with wines from various regions in the Americas, Europe, and an emphasis on South Africa. Cozy up with a glass or bottle as you enjoy the chic, artful setting and nosh on jollof rice and chicken skewers.

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