Monthly Archives: April 2013

[Journal Article] “China Wahala”: the Tribulations of Nigerian “Bushfallers” in a Chinese Territory”

A great academic article about Africans in Southern China – mainly about Nigerians in Macau, if I remember correctly. Worth reading!

Isabel Morais (2009) in Transtext(e)s transcultures: A Journal of Global Studies

Recent scholarly studies and media coverage have primarily focused on China’s increasing presence and sometimes asymmetrical engagement with Africa in tandem with the new trend of Chinese migration to that continent. Yet, the inverse flux of Africans to China and the emergence of African communities in Southern China over the last decades is influencing some areas of the Pearl River Delta Region, and changing the fabric of cities like Guangzhou, Macau and Hong Kong, in a way without precedent. There are representations or exotic descriptions from some mass circulation magazines and newspapers on the infamous Chungking Mansions in Hong Kong or the so-called “Chocolate-city,”an area centered aroundHongqiao, the village-district and Canaan market in the city of Guangzhou, with its arcades and strip malls filled with ethnic businesses and transnational migrants. In Macau, significant concentrations of African population of different origins are also seen in the “Papa pun” commercial center or in downtown areas. Despite many studies devoted to the “ethnoburbs” in other latitudes, only very recently, these entrepreneurial African communities in Mainland China are starting to become worthy of serious scholarly attention. Yet,there is total absence of studies dealing with the presence of more and more African students and the cultural manifestations of African communities well portrayed in the new African cinema, in music produced by Afro-Chinese bands or even singers.2Besides a continuing inward flow of transient Africans who come to China for business on a regular basis, a significant number of settler African traders, particularly Nigerians, have already married local Chinese women, set up families, autonomously run their businesses without recourse to Chinese intermediaries, and established a web of informal and formal committees representing their home nations and states, to solve disputes while maintaining personal and business links with Africa. Besides, those emigrant ‘bushfallers’ who are coming to China solely for business purposes, a new form of “silent” migration of Nigerians comprising students from different backgrounds is enrolling in higher education institutions in the Macau Special Administrative Region of China. These students are coming to pursue their studies or to seek a job to pay their student fees at the margin of the PRC scholarship and stipendprograms for visiting African students that were popular in China in the 1960s and mid-1970s as part of CCP’s foreign policy for Third World aiming friendly relations with Africa. Today, these “transnational” Nigerian students are in their own way affirming their identity and difference, in southern China, in particularly in Macau SAR, thanks to their network of multiple interrelations across nation-states from Africa to Asia and to a combination of perseverance, zeal, and gentleness without subservience. Although they have not been targets for the hostility and even violence like the Shanghai incident of July 1979 or the Nanjing protests in December 1988 at Hehai University targeting African students, today these Nigerian students are facing more subtle forms of ethnocentrism and legal discrimination from immigration laws to daily practices, which always try to associate their citizenship to problematic or easy stereotypes of scam or colour.3 Yet, at the same time, everything seems to indicate that these newcomers are quick adapting and finding new forms of negotiating their social integration in the Chinese local society which in turn is offering more opportunities.
This paper is part of a more ambitious project which aims to assess the new forms of migration from Africa to China and from China to Africa as well as their impact and contribution of globalization. First, this paper considers why and how Macau has evolved from a Portuguese outpost where slavery was a an institutionalized commodity to special administrative region of China where a new urban African community, mostly composed by Nigerian students, is in formation due to opportunities and rapid changes occurring in the region in the first years of the twenty-first century, by comparing the new to old African communities of students and business people/migrant workers from former Portuguese colonies (Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique).Finally, borrowing the title from a sequel movie with the same title of the promising New African cinema, the paper focus on the “China Wahala”or the troubles of these Nigerian students through their tales of their experiences of racism(s) and their negotiations and responses which radically contradicts not only the slogans of cultural diversity propagated by the official discourse and tourist channels as these Nigerians are confronted daily with often dramatic situations ranging from indifference and ostracism to exclusion.

FULL TEXT HERE

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[Media Reports] Booming China-Africa Ties Attract Africans to Pursue Dreams in Guangzhou

Interestingly, with the strengthening of Sino-African ties underscored by Xi Jinping’s recent ‘Africa Tour,’ Chinese media have resorted to highlighting (and thus legitimising) the presence of Africans in Guangzhou. Most recent reports, as the one you can read below (from CRI English), have a very positive approach – a departure from previous ways of reporting ‘African presence’ in China, which needless to say tended to be slightly negative.

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African residents buy fruits at a grocery in Xiaobeilu, a commercial area in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013. With the Chinese economy expanding fast over the past decades, African immigrants, previously unseen in China, have streamed into prosperous cities of Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and even to some second-tier cities. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, China’s annual trade with Africa surged to about 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. The booming economic relations between the two sides attract thousands of Africans to pursue dreams and make fortunes in Guangzhou, one of the pioneering cities of the country’s economic reform and opening up and a primary destination for Africans. Every afternoon, around Xiaobei Road and Huanshi Road, many Africans can be seen shuttling among stores to hand-pick jeans, T-shirts and other garments, carrying huge black plastic bags or giant backpacks. Authorities estimate there are some 100,000 inhabitants in the city.

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Angolan trader Mike (L) bargains with miss Zhou, a Chinese retailer in a wholesale market in Xiaobei Road, a commercial area in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013.

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African residents walk in Xiaobei Road, a commercial area in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013.

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Ojukwu Emma, a Nigerian businessman and chairman of Association of Nigerian community in Guangzhou, talks with business partners in his office in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013. After doing business in Guangzhou for 16 years, Emma has not only a successful career but also a happy family here.

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African residents attend the Mass at a Cathedral in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 24, 2013.

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A Hong Kong businessman (R) consults Ojukwu Emma (C), a Nigerian businessman and chairman of Association of Nigerian community in Guangzhou, on doing business in Nigeria at Emma’s office in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013.

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African residents walk in Xiaobei Road, a commercial area in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 21, 2013. It is not unusual to see black-skin residents in small groups walking, talking and bargaining with yellow-skin natives in bustling commercial areas in Guangzhou, such as Xiaobeilu and Sanyuanli, which are better known as “Little Africa”. China’s annual trade with Africa surged to about 200 billion U.S. dollars in 2012, up 55 percent year on year in average since 2000, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The booming economic relations between the two sides attract thousands of Africans to pursue dreams and make fortunes in Guangzhou, a new center of international trade. The latest available data, issued by Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences in 2007, showed that the number of officially permitted permanent residents (six months and above) from African countries was estimated to surpass 20,000.

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African acrobats perform stunts in the Chimelong International Circus in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 24, 2013.

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An African drummer performs tam-tam drum in the Chimelong International Circus in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 24, 2013.

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African residents attend the Mass at a Cathedral in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province, March 24, 2013.