Halisi Africa hopes to find a home on campus

Photo of Halisi Africa courtesy: Samuel Williams

Halisi Africa is a local business that succeeds in bringing cultural and culinary products with African roots to Tallahassee.

The shop, locally owned and family operated in Railroad Square, has become a staple for cultural diversity and culinary experiences.

Regardless of  Halisi’s presence in Railroad Square, Florida A&M University senior Kinnedi Bonner said that Halisi needs to be more recognized throughout the community and by the two universities.

“It is honestly such a beautiful vibe,” Bonner said. “I feel quite connected to my culture when I walk in [Halisi Africa] and I definitely feel like the shop is good for everyone, especially FAMU students.”

Neighboring businesses of Halisi Africa agree that the store is essential for a flourishing and diverse community.

Maria Sisti of the Crystal Portal explained that Halisi attracts all walks of life to the storefronts.

“I work next door; when they’re cooking, you can smell the incredible smells all around,” Sisti said. “The okra stew is absolutely incredible and the boutique really allows a quality source for African goods.”

Bryant Shaw is one of the caretakers of Halisi Africa, as he and his family run the venture collectively. Shaw said he opened Halisi almost three years ago with the goal of making an impact.

“We are putting a new face on what Black-owned means and what Africa represents,” Shaw said.

“Our business is being sort of a homage to African culture and tradition. It gives people a perspective on something they might not be able to experience.”

Photo of Halisi Africa courtesy: Samuel Williams

Shaw said the business started with his travels and studies in East Africa, in which he saw African culture not being represented properly in the United States.

“My mom visited Tanzania and saw the works and products I was working on and enjoyed them. She took a bunch of stuff back home, and from there, that is where the business started.”

Shaw said that he hopes to continue working with the local community to give his store the representation it deserves. Shaw has previously been in talks with FAMU’s administrative team to try and secure another permanent location of operation for Halisi Africa on campus.

“It would be incredible to be able to connect more with students and become an avid positive influence for FAMU and HBCUs,” Shaw said.

Halisi Africa is plans to remain an active part in the community and is providing its efforts wherever and whenever possible. Halisi Africa has its Faraja heritage festival being held this Saturday in Railroad Square, where it and other Black-owned businesses will host activities representing joy and culture as part of Black History Month.