[blogs] South Africa Week Beijing: Media Appreciation and Launch

By Wadeisor Rukato for From Africa to China

On the afternoon of Friday 9 September 2016, Ms Tebogo Lefifi addressed a room full of journalists and media practitioners as she opened the official launch of South Africa Week at the South African Embassy in Beijing. Hosted collaboratively by the South African Embassy, Brand South Africa and South African Tourism, the inaugural South Africa Week event series ran over four days from the 9th to the 13th of September. It brought together South African companies in China, importers and distributors of South African products in China and other friends of South Africa together to showcase the country. The event series was dedicated to unpacking South Africa’s complex relationship with China, and showcasing South African culture through food, wine, teas and dance. From Africa to China was fortunate enough to receive a media invite to South Africa Week and to cover some of its events. In a three-post series, we will share what we heard, learned and saw, with the purpose of explaining what South Africa Week 2016 was and why it is important!

South Africa Week Beijing: Day 1


I arrived at the South African Embassy in Beijing on the afternoon of Friday the 9th of September to cover the Media Appreciation and official launch of South Africa Week 2016. Organised by the South African Embassy,Brand South Africa, South African Tourism and South African Airways, the event was specifically dedicated to honouring the media and the positive role it has played in facilitating and showcasing South Africa-China relations.

Once everyone was seated, Ms Tebogo Lefifi took to the podium. “Until the lion tells his own story, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” she began. The invocation of this well-known African proverb was incredibly fitting. It reflected the importance of honest and balanced reporting by journalists who cover South Africa-China relations, as well as the need for South Africans and Africans to be at the forefront of reporting on how South Africa interacts with China. The guests in attendance spanned a wide range of different publications, most of them from China. The Beijing Review and China Business News were among the many media publications that had reporters and staff at the Media Appreciation that afternoon.

Ms Tebogo Lefifi opens the inaugural South Africa Week Media Appreciation event. Image by Uchenna Onyishi.
From right to left: HE Dr D. Msimang, (South African Ambassador to China); Ms R. Mashaba (Minister Plenipotentiary); Ms Tebogo Lefifi (Brand South Africa China Country Manager). Image by Uchenna Onyishi.

In her address, Her Excellency Ambassador Dolana Msimang began by emphasising how the relationship between South Africa and the Chinese media is a “two-way street”. She was specifically referring to the mutual reliance between the two parties, with the South African Embassy and Brand South Africa providing access to content for the purpose of balanced and accurate reporting, and media practitioners  using this content to write stories and disseminate information. HE Ambassador Msimang made it clear that the South African Embassy in Beijing remained open to cultivating a strong relationship with the media and that its doors were “always open”.


Representatives from the media in Beijing take notes as HE Dr D. Msimang delivers her briefing. Image by Uchenna Onyishi.

In order to bolster the ability of the reporters in attendance to write thoroughly on the event, HE Ambassador Msimang provided a concise overview of both the state of affairs in South Africa and the state of South Africa’s relations with China. She also made sure to mention why, for many reasons, 2016 is an auspicious year for South Africa. For example, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing into law of the South African constitution. It is also the 20th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the 40th anniversary of the June 16 Soweto Youth Uprising in 1976. 2016 also marks the 60-year commemoration of the 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria during Apartheid. The Ambassador’s highlighting of these historical landmarks for South Africa underpinned the spirit in which South Africa week was launched that afternoon. [KEEP READING HERE]

[Entertainment] West Africans & their budding ‘China-made’ entertainment industry

“Rolling with NAK is a new tv talk show hosted by China-based Sierra Leone’s Neneh Ada Yang. Ada is an artiste, fashion designer, host, painter, collector and mum. Ada also has a foundation in China, Sierra leone, US and some other countries which supports the less privileged. The talk show is produced by her and hopes to have top dignitaries and celebrities based in China and those that are on tour in the country.”

[Film] Laisuotuo, a new film about #SinoAfrica encounters

From The China Africa Project

When independent filmmaker Carl Houston Mc Millan was growing up in the tiny southern African country of Lesotho he saw firsthand the effects of China’s surging engagement in Africa. Even in this remote country, embedded within South Africa, far away from the major hubs of Chinese immigration in Johannesburg and Nairobi he could feel his community was undergoing a profound change.

Unlike larger countries where the Chinese are building massive infrastructure projects and attracting thousands of PRC workers and expatriates, in Lesotho the Chinese are largely economic migrants in search of a foothold to open a small business where many work tirelessly to earn enough extra money to send back to their families in China. These migrants are often poor, uneducated and totally unfamiliar with the local language, Sesotho.

These new foreigners, Carl explained, were not warmly welcome in Lesotho where they encountered widespread prejudice. Sure, the new ‘China shops’ offered lower prices and were conveniently open seven days a week, but they also put enormous strain on local competitors who were often unaccustomed to facing this new competitive pressure. Then there were the constant language and cultural barriers that sparked countless micro-tensions between the Chinese and locals. While this phenomenon of new immigrants struggling to adapt to their adopted country is typical in every country, it was very new and unfamiliar in Lesotho.

Within this struggle for acceptance and assimilation between Chinese and Lesotho, Carl saw the opportunity to tell a bigger story about human dimension of the China-Africa relationship that is largely overlooked in the mainstream press and academic scholarship.

His new short-film, Laisuotuo (the romanization of the word Lesotho in Chinese) tells the story of two migrants, an African doctor living in China and a Chinese shop owner in Lesotho, who both struggle to overcome painful stereotypes and racial profiling. The film was shot on location in both China and Lesotho all on a miniscule, self-funded budget by Carl and his friends.


Listen to the interview with the director below


[Reporting Grants] Women and Africa-China Relations: Themed Reporting Grants 2016

The existing discourse on Africa-China relations lacks substantial coverage of the role of women both as the subjects and actors/decision-makers/agents. So the China-Africa Reporting Project (the Project) and From Africa to China are jointly commissioning a series of Themed Grants aimed at reviewing how women are effecting and affected by China-Africa relations. The grants are open to female journalists from Africa and China. 

The Project will publish the resulting articles in a series of briefings and may also invite contributors to participate in discussion activities. From Africa to China will publish each article and document the process of producing the articles in collaboration with the journalists. All selected journalists will be free to submit their work for publishing independently.

To apply see the section below “How to apply”.

Reporting themes

The Action Plan for 2016-2018 released after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Johannesburg in 2015 highlights three commitments directly related to women and women & children: Gender equality; employment and self-development; and poverty reduction.

For each of these commitments outlined in the Action Plan, China has committed to work together with African states for the empowerment of women. Yet there is insignificant reporting on Africa-China relations in the context of women, and a lack of female voices telling stories about Africa-China relations.

Via these Themed Grants, the Project and From Africa to China seeks to commission female journalists to produce investigative features and articles exploring one of the following themes:

  • Employment and self-development for women:
    • Vocational and technical training facilities
    • Training of 200,000 local African vocational and technical personnel and providing Africa with 40,000 training opportunities in China
  • Resource mobilisation and poverty reduction:
    • To what extent have African states and China mobilized resources (including non-governmental organizations) to implement 200 “Happy Life” projects in Africa?
    • How successfully have poverty reduction programmes focusing on women and children been implemented by African states and China?
  • Exchanges on gender equality and practical cooperation on women and gender affairs:
    • Dialogues between female leaders, seminars, skills training, human capacity development and cultural exchanges
  • Other broader thematic areas:
    • The role of women as actors who are influencing Africa-China relations at both state/leadership and grassroots levels
    • The effects of Africa-China relations on women at both state/leadership and grassroots levels
    • The roles of female practitioners (academics, scholars, politicians, business leaders, journalists) in reporting Africa-China relations

How to apply

Female Chinese and African journalists interested in applying for this Themed Grants series should send a proposal containing all the items listed below to fromafricatochina@gmail.com by no later than September 25.

Applications must contain:

  • Draft title of the feature to be produced, including clear indication of which theme listed above to be pursued and relevance to the role of women in Africa-China relations
  • Brief proposal of the topic and methodology and further supporting information
  • Budget in US dollars (or rands if in South Africa) with clear itemized expenditure, within the total falling within the range US$350 to US$1,500
  • Indication of where applicant intends to publish the article
  • Applicant CV and list of previous China-Africa publications (if any)

Applicants are also encouraged to review the Project’s reporting grant guidelines and adhere to them as much as possible. 

About From Africa to China

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 2.18.53 pm.pngFrom Africa to China is an online platform run by four women from Africa who experienced Beijing while pursuing MA degrees in China studies at Peking University. The purpose of the platform is to unpack Africa-China relations through a mixture of research-based content and reflections on daily life in China from the perspective of a young African woman. Beyond advancing storytelling on Africa-China relations from the perspective of young Africans, From Africa to China specifically aims to contribute a considerably lacking female voice to the discourse on Africa-China relations.


[Research] China Africa Millennials Project – CAMP

A fascinating new project about Afro-Chinese youth engagements has recently been launched. Worth following!


Africa’s population is young, and getting younger: 70% of the continent’s population is under the age of 30. In the next 35 years, an estimated 1.8 billion babies will be born, making Africa home to more young people than anywhere else in the world. In China, the post90s generation (90后), born after the political and economic tumult of previous decades, are coming of age. As they do, they adopt world views that differ radically—even unrecognizably—from those of their parents’ generation.

One of the major international sagas defining the world these young people grow up is, undoubtedly, China-Africa relations. We have heard a lot about the evolving relationship between country and continent in recent years. About stadium diplomacy and ‘win-win cooperation’, resource extraction and racial discrimination, transnational flows of money and people. Yet much of the knowledge about Chinese-African relations is produced by, well, older people—commentary articulated by political, economic and academic veterans. And, to be honest, some of the frames and narratives are getting a bit…old.

Which is not to shun the careful and hard-won wisdom of previous generations. Other spaces and sites are already doing a great job sharing their voices and highlighting their experience and insight (see here or here or here or here).

But we want a space for us. With the China-Africa Millennials Project (CAMP), we want to give voice to the currently voiceless millions of young people from China, Africa and around the world. We want to insert youth into the emerging kaleidoscope of voices telling and retelling China-Africa stories.

As such, the essays, reflections and reports collected here are authored by “millennials,” all of whom have had some unique involvement in intersections of China and Africa. The pieces range in nature, quality and content. Some are rough, unpolished—a few authors are publishing thoughts in English for the first time, based on micro-research projects conducted over just a few weeks. Others are written by emerging scholars, based on years of careful consideration. Taken together, however, we hope the disparate body of works here will add a sunburst of new and lively voices to existing conversations, chip away at the dominance of stale and aging narratives, and ultimately create new discursive frontiers.

We humbly hope that this space will serve as one in which a new generation of authors, artists, scholars, business people, and wanderers can test out their voices. Can question and explore, share and exchange.

There is a lot to learn from these young people—even our most venerable elders admit it. And who knows? Maybe, not so long from now, some of those posting here will be the ones shaping the narratives of China and Africa.

Read more about CAMP here

[Photography] Africans pursuing the Chinese Dream in Guangzhou

As every summer for the last 5 years, media comes again with a story of how Africans pursue their dream in the southern Megalopolis of Guangzhou.


Beginning in May, Liang Yingfei spent four months photographing Xiaobei Road in Guangzhou, which houses the largest African community in China. A series published in three parts, the first parts focuses on Serges de la Roche, who goes by the Chinese nickname Xiaolong (Little Dragon). A Togolese businessman who has lived in China for nearly 10 years, Xiaolong has been selling a wide variety of goods—from diesel generators to gadgets—to customers in Africa. Due to the increased difficulty in obtaining a Chinese visa, he was planning to return to Togo with his Chinese wife and their two Chinese-born children. The second part of Liang’s series looks at the effect of China’s recent economic slowdown on African businesspeople and students in Guangzhou, while the final part is a collection of portraits of Africans in Guangzhou