Hangwei Li with the Africa Daily recently interviewed Pieter van der Houwen, Director of Documentary Film “The Africa-China Connection.” This documentary looks at the impact of African migration into China and the greater economic impact Africans will continue to have. As Europe and America build fortress societies, the Chinese recognise that ease of movement will become a key part of sustained economic development. Philosopher and political scientist Achille Mbembe, and Ian Goldin, former Vice-President of the World Bank & advisor to Nelson Mandela, analyse the significance of this development.
Interesting TED Talk by Zambian Dambisa Moyo about the how people all over the non-Western world are looking at the Chinese model: political rights vs. economic rights dilemma
African artists create greater understanding by portraying life in China, an exhibition in Beijing reveals
In a Kansas schoolyard in 1979, alone in a crowd of children at play, Akonga Jonas Theodore made a discovery that would determine the course of his adult life.
Newly arrived in the United States, the 7-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo was isolated from the other children by barriers of language and culture.
In that lonely place, Akonga found his voice and his calling.
He spoke to his playmates not in the tongue of his African homeland, but in the scratchy whisper of pencil on paper, in the language of lines and shading.
“I took a pencil, and I drew what I wanted to say,” Akonga remembers. “This is how I started using art to communicate with people.”
It is a skill the now Beijing-based 41-year-old still uses.
“I did the same thing when I moved to China in 2003,” he says.
Paints and brushes have become Akonga’s communication tools along with English and Mandarin. Using art to transcend language and culture has become his profession, as well as his passion.
On Nov 22, his work appears as part of a groundbreaking exhibition in Beijing that documents through paintings, drawings and photographs the experiences of Africans living in China.
The driving force behind the exhibition, Beijing-based photographer and artist Njoku “Saint Jerry” Ajike, says he wants to reveal the largely untold journey that African immigrants have undertaken in China over the past decade.
When the 37-year-old Nigerian artist arrived in Beijing five years ago, he says he felt constrained by an erroneous stereotype that Africans were just out to make a buck any which way they could.
Few people, he says, realized what the African community was giving back to Beijing and the other Chinese cities where they had made lives and homes.
“The story of Africa in China is all hustle and bustle,” he says. “This exhibition is a different view of Africans in China. It is archival, what Africans were able to discover here, what they built.”
Believed to be the first African photographer to have his work featured in China’s renowned Pingyao Photo Festival, in 2009 Njoku began publishing LensAfrik, a magazine focused on telling the African story in the world’s second-largest economy.
As African presence grows and consolidates in China, there are many different stories. Below you can read a letter that got sent to africansinchina.net asking for support in what has been perceived as an injustice by the Chinese judiciary system. Currently, according to different sources, around about 500 Nigerian are serving sentences in Chinese jails. Interestingly, while ‘western’ (and westernised) media is always ready to victimise African migrants, when they are indeed victims, not many a western journo seems to think this is of relevance. If you are interested in signing this petition, click here.
FELLOW NIGERIAN’S and others CONCERNED,
My name is Olu a Nigerian resident in Beijing China. My brother has been sentenced by the Chinese people local court to 10 years in prison for an alleged robbery case he knows nothing about. There is every indication to proof his innocence but the court has refused to grant all his proof.
He was arrested and detained on late October 2012 before he was sentenced on early November this year. His lawyer has made an appeal on his behalf which the court has accepted but due to the Chinese law I don’t think the appeal would make any change if proper measure is not taken.
The Nigerian embassy is aware of this incident but they have refused to show any interest. They even declined the invitation extended to them by the court on two instances during the sittings. I believe their presence at the court would have made a very good impact but am yet to understand why they never showed up. While I was at the embassy, after the court judgment, to complain about their failure to attend the court’s invitation, the Deputy Chief of Mission threatened me with the police because he felt I was not in a position to question their authority. Since then I have been restricted from the embassy.
My brother’s lawyers have really tried to proof his innocence but with regards to the Chinese judiciary law they have limited power to defend their clients especially when the prosecutor has submitted their final verdict to the court.
The Chinese judiciary system is one I respect very much because of their very good records of operating a fair and responsible judgment but on this case there is a high degree of misconception from the prosecutor due to the high degree of conspiracy of the complaints.
I know I don’t have the final say or authority to proof my brother’s innocence, and that is why I am calling on fellow Nigerians, and whomever else may be interested in helping, to call on The Federal Government to call the attention of the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing to help me follow up the case at the appeal court so that the court can make sure my brother is proven innocent and released and if he has been found guilty of this allegation, which I largely doubt, they should be able to give substantial evidence(s).
There is no doubt that there are several Nigerians who are involved in various criminal activities in China, but at the same time there are several Nigerians whom have established themselves very well and positively in their various fields in China. The police and the court all over the world are human beings, no matter how diligent their system might be, they sometimes make mistakes in their assessment and judgment. The negligence and uncared attitude of the Nigerian embassy when some of its citizens are in situations like this has resulted in having several innocent Nigerians languishing in Chinese jails. They are the only ones that can rescue Nigerians in situation like this by defending our human rights. I am not saying they should support those Nigerians who are really involved in criminal activities. No upright country would defend her nationals who go to another country to dent the image of the country by getting involved in criminal activities; but they owe it a duty to protect our nationals anywhere and time their rights were infringed upon.
Chinese are very accommodating people but sometimes they treat foreigners according to the way their country treats their own nationals. The Chinese are not the ones making us to live under pressure in China but our own authorities.
Please I am calling on the whole Nigerians and others concerned to help me add their voice(s) so that the Nigerian government can call the attention of the Nigerian embassy in Beijing to show interest in my brother’s case. I know they don’t have the authority to tell the Chinese government to just release my brother. All I want is for them to help him in defending his human rights and make sure they give him the right judgment.
The most pathetic is that his wife was also sentenced with him and right now there is no one to take care of their two babies (aged 3 and 1 years old). My brother is Type 2 diabetic and I learnt he complains of inadequate medical attention at the detention. I don’t want my brother’s case to be like the Florida man James Bain who was found innocent after spending 35 years in prison or like the reported case of Yu Yinsheng in China who was found innocent after spending 17 years in jail on the alleged of his wife murder.
I still believe in the Chinese judiciary system and that is why we have made appeal to the Supreme Court. We hope that if the court thoroughly looks into this case, and with the interest of the Nigeria embassy in Beijing, the court would finally make the right judgment.
GOD BLESS THE PEOPLE REPUBLIC OF CHINA
GOD BLESS THE INNOCENT AND LOVING PEOPLE OF NIGERIA
If you are interested in signing this petition, click here.
A Nigerian TV report about the ’50 to 60 Nigerian men legally married to Chinese women’ in Guangzhou, China
Les Africains ont immigré en masse à Canton au début des années 2000, avant de déchanter. Marché stagnant et racisme ambiant les font peu à peu déserter la «Chocolate City»
La troisième fois qu’il est venu à ma petite boutique de tee-shirts, il m’a dit qu’il m’aimait», fait Xiao Jiang en minaudant. «Comme je trouvais son nez et ses yeux très beaux, j’ai fini par sortir avec lui. Puis on s’est marié en 2007.» Xiao Jiang, une Cantonaise de 30 ans, et Saliou Ndyaye, un Sénégalais de 32 ans, ont aujourd’hui une petite fille de 2 ans, baptisée Yiwa. «Je lui parle en chinois pour qu’elle ne mélange pas les langues», murmure le papa attentionné en nous ouvrant la porte de son minuscule deux pièces de la banlieue de Canton. Sur l’écran de l’ordinateur familial, une chanteuse déroule une mélopée locale. «J’adore les chansons chinoises», confesse Saliou. Depuis son arrivée en Chine, en 2005, il vivote en faisant de l’import-export. En ce moment, il achète en Chine des machines à coudre la dentelle, qu’il exporte par bateau vers le Sénégal. «La marge est très réduite, mais ça me permet de survivre, résume-t-il. Il n’y a pas de travail facile ici pour les immigrés. Le seul moyen de s’en sortir, c’est de faire du business.»
Xiao Jiang et Saliou font partie des 400 couples mixtes sino-africains de cette métropole du sud de la Chine où résident 20 000 à 30 000 Africains. Les anglophones gravitent autour de Sanyuanli, un quartier moderne, tandis que les francophones d’Afrique de l’Ouest fréquentent plutôt les ruelles du quartier de Xiaobei, où est aussi installée de longue date une forte communauté de commerçants du Moyen-Orient. On y accède en passant sous un pont de chemin de fer où, non loin d’un étal de boubous made in China, deux Africaines assises sur des chaises en pleine rue se font épiler le visage par des Chinoises. «Portez toujours votre passeport sur vous […]. Il est interdit de fréquenter les prostituées. Toute personne en infraction se verra infliger une amende», lit-on en anglais sur une grande stèle en ciment posée par le commissariat du quartier. [cliquez ici pour continuer]
Amongst the many things Africans do in China are singing and dancing. Below you can have a look at one clip from the latest concert of Dibaocha Sky, a Nigerian singer and one of the most prominent figures in the contemporary African music scene in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.
Video recorded by Jinseok Kang