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A few years ago, Chibueze Chima found himself in now-closed L.A. nightclub on a Friday night. As a Nigerian immigrant, this evening was supposed the one when he could expect to feel most at home — Afrobeats night, the one night a week when DJs pumped out the rhythms of contemporary West African artists. Yet after coming here week after week with his friends, Chima had noticed that the club’s owner often failed to properly represent the culture from where the music came. It seemed that their only motivation was money.
“I looked around at all these people drinking and dancing, and I told myself, ‘How can we say we are proud, smart people, but here, giving our resources to someone who doesn’t care about our culture?'” Chima recalled. “So I decided the moment I walked out the door, I was going to work on opening a nightclub that represents who we are.”
With less than $5,000 in his bank account, he set to work. Two years later, his dream is finally ready to be realized: His nightclub The Tribe is slated to open its doors in about two-and-a-half months at 446 Market Street in Inglewood, not far from SoFi Stadium. The two-floor establishment will be spread over 6,000 square feet of space.
“It’s going to be the first ever Afrobeats nightclub in L.A.,” Chima said. “It’ll bring in the culture from the motherland, from Nigeria.”
While many of L.A.’s nightclubs have nights or events dedicated to Afrobeats, Chima’s will play the genre exclusively. He envisions a place where the electricity is palpable when you walk through its doors, as is the sense of belonging. Chima named his club The Tribe in honor of its philosophy: People of all nationalities and races can feel accepted there, as members of a tribe devoted to a love of Afrobeats music and culture, he explained. Surrounded by dancing and merrymaking, you should be transported to a happy place, whoever you are.
“Afrobeats brings about the happy soul of a person — it brings you positive energy,” Chima explained. “Here you’ll be happy and expressing yourself in a whole different world of entertainment.”
Chima also hopes that the new nightclub will uplift Inglewood’s Black community, especially its Nigerian and African members. One of his proudest projects is a wall mural that will feature on the side of The Tribe’s building, depicting the faces of a man and a woman in traditional Nigerian face paint. Though it’s only about twenty percent done, it’s already attracting attention: On a recent Saturday, he watched a woman stop and jump out of the car to take pictures. The businesses around his seem to have taken notice as well, he said, and appear to be upgrading their storefronts in preparation for new momentum in the neighborhood.
“I want to bring change in the community. I want people to look up to the Black community and this business,” Chima explained. “My culture is a very proud people. I want to give the people of my community a place they can come to and feel safe.”
For Chima, the opening of The Tribe’s doors will be his realization of the “American Dream.” He immigrated to L.A. eight years ago, taking minimum wage jobs at Los Angeles International Airport to make ends meet, until he decided to go into business for himself.
“It’s been a journey, but I’m grateful for everything,” Chima said.