Black man in Bucharest: What’s it like for Africans living in Romania?

This blog post is my personal take on what life in Bucharest feels and looks like from a ‘black’ perspective and does not speak for all the experiences of black or non-EU nationals residing in the country. However – I am equally aware that my general ‘positive’ experience of Romanian lifestyle and culture is not the experience of all see by some of the other viewpoints featured below (#JustSaying)


Bucharest. Romania. Bucharest – where do I start?

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| Strolling along the roads as the day draws near to an end – I am reminded of back home |

There is  a certain ‘African city’ feel to Bucharest. It doesn’t have as many Africans as Athens but it’s very different to anything I have ever experienced before in other european cities. I was still there and still here this summer and the climate together combined with the rather welcoming nature of the people reminds me of the days I was based in Arusha in Northern Tanzania. Now that may come as a surprise to the few who make their way to this post that I (as a black dude) am writing about Bucharest and Romania.

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| simple roads – great weather during the summer – friendly people |

I didn’t quite know what to expect upon my arrival from London to Henri Coandă airport (for those that don’t know this is Romania’s busiest international airport). I was more cautious rather that optimistic. I knew I was entering a country placed closer to eastern Europe and still developing out of her recent communist past.

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(On  a sunny day I’d probably say Bucharest is the prettiest European city I have been too so far)

Let’s be honest; it’s not every day that you read positive and inspiring things about Romania” according to Ethan Richards. I have to agree with my brother. The treatment of gypsies, the “Romania is a poor country” talk, “they are conservatists and racists” and the arduous “winter weather”  are just some of the things I have heard before. This along with the “stereotypes” of Romanians in the UK – which is not that great! prepares me for an interesting trip.

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( You would think that this is Paris but this is the belle view from the Palatul Parlamentului )

But let’s cut straight to the chase: Romania’s alrights – or at Bucharest is – that’s where I was based. In fact – that’s a lie. I actually like it down here! As a black, another thing I noticed is that we are very few. Verrrrry few.  You won’t find any trendy Ghanaian Restaurants, migrant professionals or African churches. Apart from the few Nigerian (and handful of East African) students at universities along with a very small but growing number of interracial relationships and marriages taking places – many black migrants and travellers pass through Romania instead of choosing to settle within Romania – at least according to my friends who engage in the migration sector. I can’t speak for other countries such as Hungary, Serbia, Bulgarian and Slovakia, but few black people live in Romania. They’re generally in big cities on business, pleasure or education. There are no black people in rural towns. If you go to the rural areas where it’s still common to find donkeys, smiling children and traditional carts – you will be stared at. And not in the politically correct ‘British’ sly staring – but “full blown in your face coming up to you out of their homes, cars slowing down winding down the windows” type of staring.

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( Marriages are important to Romanian communities – on a more humble scale I actually very much like them )

There’s quite a few traditions I’ve heard about. It is a sign of bad luck to see another bride on the wedding day. So brides and their families go to great lengths to avoid seeing each other when signing the marriage certificates at the City Hall or when waiting for their queue at the church. During a wedding ceremony – you’ll have what is called ‘kidknapping the bride’ – yes! The bride is kidkapped – usually by a group of male guests – or friends of the brie usually to another restaurant or club and demand for a ransom to bring the bride back, these ransoms  vary widely. If the bride cries at her wedding, it means she will be happy in her marriage. Rain on the wedding day means good luck in marriage.



Perspectives about life in Romania from others:

Only African and American Negro men really experience this. A few years ago a Black basketballer from the United States, Chauncey Hardy, was beaten to death in a Romanian disco for trying to hit on a Romanian woman. American basketball player dies after savage beating – over a girl – in Romanian bar ” From Anonymous (Source: quora.com 18th Nov 2016)

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“Gypsy” to me has never had the stigma or the negative connotation that it does for some people. For me gypsy has always meant travelling, music and family. When I was young in Romania, the apartment building opposite was pretty dilapidated, with a few Roma families living there. One of my very best friends, Nicoleta, lived on the ground floor: her family put a big hole in the wall so they could bring their horse in. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room leaning against the sleeping horse, watching TV or playing backgammon.” From Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, born in Ploiești, Romania at the tail end of the Cold War, his mother a Romanian and his father a Ghanaian engineering student. (Source: Adventures of an Afro-Gypsy, The Calvert Journal)

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Ok; I have been to many countries including Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Croatia, Italy etc. Of all these place I experienced one act of racism in Romania. I was in constanta port and a guy who came to give supply for ship compared me to dog, well I gave befitting reply. Anyway Now let me move to the important point Romanians are great people and they are not racist . I made many friends from Constanta, strangers helped me and gave me rides to city. It’s just I was unlucky to meet a moron with racist ideas and every country have their share of these morons. Comparing the frequency I have been in Romania I am sure they are not racist (one act/person doesn’t make a country racist). From Karthik Nandakumar (Source: quora.com)



Back to my the point; some of the observations I noticed is that Romanians are pretty religious; following orthodox form of Christianity with their rosary beads, ‘signs of the cross’ as gestures and careful attendances and observations of mass and marriage. By the way; never speak to a bus driver whilst they are driving as the hand gestures, sighs and looks you’ll get from the passengers whilst not aggressive are still unpleasant. Another thing , similar to greek culture is that many women who die before getting married are buring in a white wedding dress – coming from the UK i found this rather interesting. I also noticed the more chilled out approaches taken with marriage.  Many newly-weds celebrate in the city centre with some friends taking photographs – there are many wedding dress shops within the town centres in Bucharest – this may explain why.

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( typical sunny day along the picturesque boulevards )

The number of students who choose to study at UBB and UMF Romanian universities are growing one year to another. They come from developed countries like Germany or France, but also from long distance countries so different from Romania and even of the European ones, like Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, for example. Though I didn’t meet many – I wasn’t surprised as Nigerians are usually EVERYWHERE along with the growing number of European students choosing to study abroad.

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Bucharest is a lovely city. I have a soft spot for it. Simple. I’d dare call it Europe’s most ‘African city feel’ city (if I can call it that). However – to make sure I am not biased; i am well aware that it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re social being is truly pan-african and one is in desperate need to meet members of his or her own black community in Bucharest; then unless you’re willing to sweat in search – you won’t find them (or us). Also; if you’re easily offended and part of this ‘Afro-renaissance’, ‘I find it racist when those not my colour continue to stare at me’ generation – then Bucharest and certainly the neighbouring towns around and outside Bucharest are not for you.

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( views from the Palatul Parlamentului – a grand place indeed )

If there are any Africans in Bucharest; i’d be glad to meet up whilst I am still here! It’s a great place – well at least so far at least! ‘God gives grace to the humble’ – goes the biblical saying and I certainly see this in Romania and to all those that enjoy it down here – Stay tuned!


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55 thoughts on “Black man in Bucharest: What’s it like for Africans living in Romania?

  1. I want more advise if black want to come to romania is there rasism agains blacks and its easy to travel from romania to any any europian country eg germany,ukrain or france

    1. Thanks for the comment Mario! Romania normally works as a ‘travel through’ country rather than a ‘Here is where I want to stay’ country. As long as you have either Schengen visa or EU citizen status – you can travel to any European country within the EEA. Hope this helps and apologies for the late response! Yes and of course there is racism – like everywhere in Europe but it depends on where in the country you are and whether you can navigate through the rough beginning stages before it gets better. Many do and will look at you but not in a very racist way or attitude especially in the cities but the more rural you go – the more you feel it – but my experience there (in Bucharest) was really good – can’t complain so far…

      1. Hi there, please can you delete my comment in this thread containing my email address. I am getting a few people email me. I would appreciate it. Tha Thank you

  2. This was very helpful and comforting to know since I’m planning to travel to Romania (Medias) for business soon.

      1. hi Mohyed…make friends, people will stare at you alot, but develop a thick skin, if you dont have one already. for food, shop at markets, waay cheaper, fresher too. Good luck. let me know if you need any more advice

  3. Africans are no longer welcome in Europe and I am a Romanian.European nations are finally closing their borders.
    Besides I m not that stupid.A guy in USA called Kamau Kambon wants to exterminate all European people.
    So stay where you are or go anywhere outside Europe and leave European women alone.

      1. Curva romanca,nu mi dai matale mie lectii pe cine sa primesc in Europa mea ! du te tu in Africa si suge pule de negri dar stai departe de Europa nationalista !

  4. some romanians stare at black people with curiosity, not racism. simple curiosity, because you are very rare in Romania. like the chinese who stare at white people and want to take a picture with them because they are very rare there. just smile and be friendly. there are also idiots and racists, but they are much fewer than in poland, ukraine or russia.

  5. I’m a Romanian born American. I was born in Bucharest, but left to the US when I was 5. I grew up in Los Angeles and currently live in San Francisco. I’d like to visit Bucharest soon. I haven’t been back there for a visit in a really, really long time.

    1. Thanks for your message Christian. Yes Bucharest is certainly an amazing city. It’s not exactly top of everyone’s choice and it’s still remains a relatively humble unknown state. But I do hope you go soon! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Princess Dee. I’ve never been to that region before. Apart from the usual (be expected to be stared at (directly) quite a bit, make sure you have ID with you and if you have your natural hair out (in a fro or something), be prepared to either allow or resist random locals approach with a desire to touch your hair (especially if you’re likely to be in a more rural setting)! Hope this helps =) {Sorry for the late response also}

  6. Your blog content made me smile. It was interesting to find out that you find Bucharest as the most African-like capital in Europe. I feel like apologising to everyone from African descend who arrives in my country….We have been very confined to our territory throughout 50 odd years of totalitarianism…and there was no freedom of circulation in and out. That’s why the genuine and somehow offensive curiosity some people will directly display, when looking at you-if you are black! At least we are honest and open, you will know exactly how a Romanian feels about you from their body language and all their reactions towards you. It will only be curiosity and nothing else. As far as I am aware, we do not have a history of racial hate towards black people. We have never nurtured feelings of white supremacy….like other nations in Europe have. We have never been involved in slaves trade with Africans, we have never considered people with black skin as inferior beings. We are open and very friendly, which unfortunately has made us exploitable by the others throughout history. We will always invite you to our homes and feed you…properly……not just give you a cup of tea with a biscuit! Welcome to Romania, as it needs more diversity to grow and evolve!

    1. Hello Ella, thanks for your response. Romanians are indeed open and honest. It is an under spoken and humble country! The few Africans that I know that have been there (i’m currently in between London and Italy at the moment) have only had positive words to say. I look forward to being invited into more homes upon my return next year – hopefully!

  7. hy am.Mikan ,an african american from north manhattan ,New york.
    just as an enquiry are there full english taught programs in computer science in romanian universities preferably in Bucharest .
    I know it sounds a cliche’ an american coming to romania for education.
    well honestly i spent last summer with a romanian friend i met up with in chelsea area ,n he was cool we planned ll get an exchange program which i kinda brushed off but from the comments i think i might consider an exchange this coming autumn .
    so any info guys ???(ps.also tell me the quality in relation to american universities)…….

    1. Mikan – Good Man! Great to hear from you. OK – I come from the British Schooling System and not the US one – so I don’t know whether any of what I say will be useful. The University of Bucharest and Babes-Bolyai University are the only universities I know. They are the best in Romania actually – and you’ll find many foreign students from Eastern Europe, Africa, Arab and Chinese and the odd US exchange students. I was amazed to be enjoying breakfast one morning at the RAMADA PLAZA in Bucharest (Decent Hotel by the way) and saw two African-American opposite me (though they did appear to be on a business trip) … Back to the point – the quality of the two uni’s should be similar to the states – but this is my assumption – what the Romanian universities may lack in sheer size, number of students and numbers of equipment – it makes up with in culture! And yes – there are English taught programmes at these two universities and others (Danubius and Universitatea de vest din Timisoara leading the way) particularly in Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics… I can’t say more than that at the moment bro – apologies.

  8. Hello,am planning to come to Romania in a couple of months for visit purpose,am African.would you tell me the average cost of life if your living in a room,including a space for cooking ,besides which town will you advise to visit because I intend developing English teaching business during my stay there.Stay bless

    1. Thanks Vida. OK, when I was in Romania – I didn’t stay there – but I do know that the Umbrella Hostel in Bucharest is the best. Around £15 – £25 per day (British Pounds) and you’ll survive during the week. If you’re looking for something more upmarket aside from the fact there are some very affordable Air B’n’B houses you can stay at – there is a hotel for everyone. Epoque and Grand Continental Hotel are fab but will set you over £100 (British Pounds – Sorry I don’t know your currency) a night! Way too costly for me. In terms of food, if you’re shrewd £10 can last you a day. In terms of neighbourhoods; I’m really sorry – the only thing I know is that Bucharest is not the most dangerous/unsafe European city i’ve been too – apart from the odd rude Taxi drivers, stray dogs and pick-pocketing – you should be fine. Cismigiu (Park) on a nice day is beautiful and Lipscani neighborhood (Old Town) is good. For your english teaching – do checkout the British Council ‘BritSocial conversation club’ – it’s a great place to meet like minded people and potential students!

  9. I am a 22 old year Ugandan hoping to travel to Bucharest in search for a job,would it be trying? for me as for the racism not my worry Been to the Arab countries its worse there! Is it expensive or its manageable and if there is what categories for a girl like me without so much portfolio.hope to hear from you! Thank you

  10. Ms. Kawuki. Thanks for your message! You are a star and I hope Bucharest will be a good landing spot should you come. You are 100% right about the treatment of Blacks in many (most but not all) Arab countries. It is a subject and experience that many within our community in western Europe are very ignorant of; I will be addressing this in a future post as I have many African friends who have migrated from North Africa and the Middle East and their experiences are quite literally unbelievable. Back to Bucharest, I still maintain that Bucharest is one of my favourite destinations so far (for Holiday) – I’m almost turning into an advocate for the place – but trust me – no one is paying me. But with regards to staying and working (as you are saying)- it will be a different experience. I have black friends who are married to Polish, Hungarian and Latvian; they mainly left their countries to venture further west due to better work opportunities in the UK – culturally however – they prefer the countries they left. If you’re English is good – there is a strong demand for English teaching positions in Romania. And high level IT graduates with expertise in electric machinery and equipment, textiles and footwear, light machinery and auto assembly are well sought for and looked after. If you’re looking for some more in the informal sector – i’d have to raise my hands and simply say ‘I don’t know. As a black woman; if you’re confident in your own skin (even with many people staring) and you find your niche doing something very well – i’m confident that you’ll go far. There are a growing number of black singers, political figure and footballers making a name for themselves in Romania: Wan Love, Veronika Tecaru and Ayo being some of them. It will be very difficult in the beginning but with patience , not being shy to find ways of creatively sharing your Ugandan culture with locals and learning the language – you’ll be ok. I love the Ugandan proverb ‘Egyagaza omubi; omulingi takimanya’ – we have a similar one in Lingala and Swahili. Hope to hear from you soon! Well done!

  11. Hello, I am a Nigerian and I plan to visit Bucharest, Botosani and the black sea area by December. Do I have to be worried about racism?

    1. Hi Ruby, thanks for your response. As far as I’m concerned along with my fellow black contributors within this blog post; Bucharest & Botosani are OK; the black sea area – I have no idea. Please view my response to Princess Dee on July 9th – hope that helps =)

  12. I am a black African living in the uk. I have recently been to Bucharest for 5 days and I got say, I love it. I love that laid back feels that is has got and the friendliness of the majority of the people. Most people can communicate in English so that helps. As to the staring I probably get more stares in the Uk so not an issue for me. At the end of the day how you are received and perceived wherever you go has a lot to do with the vibe that comes from yourself. Skin colour is only part of the story.

  13. I am a Nigerian planing to come to Romania for just a month, pls what are the affordable rates of hotel in Bucharest and what are the things I can buy and resell back home here in Nigeria.

    Kindly email your response

  14. Please change Romani to Romanians from | marriages are important to Romani communities – on a more humble scale I actually very much like them |. Romani are gypsies,Romanians are Romanians.There is a difference.

  15. | marriages are important to Romani communities – on a more humble scale I actually very much like them | Romanians not Romani.

  16. Hello — I am writing a film script set in Transylvania in 1957 and am aiming for some diversity. Do you know if there were Black people living in Romania around that time (not necessarily as a community)? I want to be historcally accurate. Thank you.

    1. Hey Donald. Romania was still a Communist country during 1957 so there were not many foreigners allowed inside the country at that time. However, from my mothers stories there were quite a few African students at Transylvanian universities. It depends on where your film would be located. Big cities such as Timisoara and Cluj would have certainly had more ethnically diverse people (mostly African and Arabic). In later years, as the situation in communist Romania got progressively worse, many of them were working as merchants and selling certain products on the black market (such as soap, deodorant, coffee etc.) because those products could not be found at all in Romanian stores.

  17. Hi All,
    I read your comments. I am from Turkey and lived in Romania 13 years. I worked there on top managerial positions. Now I m in Uganda. It was my dream to live in Africa since I was child. After I come here I saw that African People are much more civilized than Europeans. I feel very safe and welcomed here. I am coordinating a big factory and it is a pleasure to be the part of my team. All smiling people. They dont start to speak without asking ” HOW ARE YOU ?” . I am pretty to sure that all Africans will have a shock when they go to Europe. They can never find this hospitality. I am a white guy and I never felt that I am a target while I walked on the streets in the middle of the night. But It is impossible to do the same in most parts of Europe. Europeans are racist. If you are different you are dangerous for them. They are very egoist. They have lost their souls. Romania is much better than other European countries. But after Syrian war I have surprised that even my close Romanian friends started to became racist against refugees. Ironically more than 3 million Romanians outside Romania having the same treatment from western Europeans. Basically, I m very to live in Uganda with those polite, kind, civilized people and I hope to stay here till the end of my life.

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