Matonge is the Congolese neighbourhood in B1050 Elsene, one of the 19 communities of Brussels in Belgium. It’s main street is Waversesteenweg. Many Congolese if not most live free throughout the country. However, the situation in Brussels is not as in London where the black neighbourhood has disappeared completely it seems.
How to reach Matonge in Brussels?
If as a country inhabitant you insist on a trip through the capital and would include a visit to Matonge then the easiest point to choose as your destination is metro stop Naamsepoort. You can also take the train from one of the main station North, Central or Midi to Luxemburg. In Luxemburg station you take the stairs and walk in the other direction than the European Parliament museum until Waversesteenweg. Now go to the right, cross the Troonstraat and walk until the corner where you can start your Matonge trip starting from the house of the meter of Matonge.
The Matonge galleries
On a rainy day you can immediately look for a shelter in the gallery with entry in the inner corner of the “Square du Bastion”. To specify, when you leave the metro via the rising escalator, at the top, at your left you will see BNPParibas bank. Go more to the right until the corner. There is the entry of a gallery leading to Waversesteenweg. On the go through this gallery you meet among others at your left an African snack. Then, a self respecting number of African hairdressers, some ditto tourism offices with flights to Africa and maybe other ones. Also, a ditto clothing shop. Welcomed by grass vendors you can reach the Matonge gallery by crossing Waversesteenweg. Over there, the same scenario with some bars in between and cosy terraces all around. On days of more inactivity, for instance in summer time when many people are in holidays, hair clumps may kick around. Some ex-Congolese pretend that the whole Belgian Matonge is a disaster. On my proposal to put tropical, with preference climatologically adapted plantation, one specific man got furious because I would rather cultivate the disaster than thumb for its demolition. Of course that guy was internationally minded and must have left the country years ago.
Deeper digging in Matonge’s opportunities
Waversesteenweg, a street to Audergem, from number 1 to 172 contains some African food stores. Maybe the most and the best of Belgium. Most are runned by muslims as well as many cafés are. The latter seem like stopping their business one by one not necessary because of faillissement than just because of selling their business space together with the whole house. Other cafés, run by Congolese or related, are rebuilt and prosperous.