Abby’s African International Market

An African grocery store bringing international products to Bowling Green


Alexandria Anderson

Sylvia Kamalebo checks out Lewis Abwe at Abby’s African International Market on May 16, 2023. Kamalebo owns Abby’s with her family, which is named after her daughter. Originally from Burundi in Africa, Kamalebo was a refugee and has lived in the U.S. for 15 years. Abby’s sells items from Africa, Mexico, Asia and the Caribbean.

Bailey Reed, News reporter

Abby’s African International Market is an African grocery that sells food products customary to African culture.

Nefu Kamalebo, 29, owns the business. The market opened in 2016.

“I am originally from the Congo,” Kamalebo said.

He also lived in Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe at different points in his childhood.

Kamalebo moved to the United States in November 2012 after his family started their process in 2005.

“The process was crazy, very crazy,” Kamalebo said. “Back in 2005, we requested help since we were refugees. Once your names come up, they start interviewing you to decide if you can come here.”

Kamalebo opened Abby’s International Market both for cultural and personal reasons.

Lewis Abwe enters Abby’s African International Market on May 16, 2023. Abwe, who lives in Bowling Green, is originally from the Congo. He has lived in the U.S. for five years as a refugee and shops at Abby’s to find items from Africa. (Alexandria Anderson)

“As African people, we grow up on international food. Most American food is not international,” Kamalebo said. “Most [African] people are not getting along with the food. I feel like I can be help.”

Kamalebo imports fish directly from Africa, as well as other produce in order to help his community feel at home in Bowling Green.

“My purpose for me opening the business was just because I need my people to feel like they are still home,” Kamalebo said.

Kamalebo enjoys owning a business here in the U.S. as it is a good place to start and utilize your own ideas.

“America is a very good place to come up with your own idea, so opening my business here was my goal,” Kamalebo said.

News reporter Bailey Reed can be reached at [email protected].