AFRICAN MARKET: Home Away From Home For African Immigrants

By Sandra Ofori-Boakye

As the old adage goes ‘there’s no place like home’, but for one African market located in Newark, they try to make America a new home for most African immigrants.

The Makola African Market situated on Lyons Avenue, Newark, N.J is a food market that sells assorted African products such as gari, tinapa, palm oil, smoked fish, corn dough, cassava dough and kenkey among others.

According to Atta Mills, Supervising Manager, the store was established about 25 years ago by a chief who rules in a small traditional region in Ghana. He visited the United States 30 years ago and realized the need for establishing this business because he was ‘home-sick’.

“Securing a place for the business was a bit challenging, but everything is in place now. Our main purpose is to serve the African community in America with African products. Most people from different parts of Africa come here to shop. Even some Americans come here too because they really enjoy the African food.” he said.

Makola African Market
Makola African Market

The store has branches in places like Houston, Nashville and Alexandria.

“Our store is international and we’re wholesale distributors with a wide sales division. Some small African shops purchase from us. We import mainly from Ghana and Nigeria. We get our rice from Thailand and for some items we get them here in the United States,” Mills said.

The African store with its name ‘Makola’ has it’s origination from Ghana. It was originally constructed in Accra, Ghana’s capital in the year 1924 by some market women and currently runs in Ghana as one of the country’s biggest market center.

Some customers spoke about how helpful the store has been to them.

Charles Kondo, a Chadian said that he’s been shopping there for the past 20 years.
“It’s been quite an experience. Coming to the store makes me feel like I’m back home,” he said.

Lynette Oma, a Nigerian residing in Newark said that the store is like back home she can’t reach.

“I like the store so I visit here often because they have a lot of African stuffs. I buy yam, smoked fish and gari here all the time,” Oma said.

“I’m a regular customer here because it’s African conscious. Even though I’m not in Africa, I feel the African breeze and I feel home in the store,” Talal Sampson, a Liberian said.

The Makola African Market has about 30 workers. These workers are mainly from all parts of Africa but the dominating workers are Ghanaians. Their motto reads; “Authentic One Stop African Imports.”



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