By Frederick Mugira for Wits Journalism
The old couches, low tables placed in front of them, only amplify the smallness of the room where the 50-year-old Tanzanian lady is serving boiled bananas and chicken. The room is on the 16th floor of Block D in Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong. A board pasted onto the wall lists the foods she serves and their prices.
A door leads out of the restaurant into another room, this one with bunk beds. It is used as a guest house. The Tanzanian lady tells me she has been in Hong Kong for the last 5 years.
Modu Medard, a Ghanaian, sells garments and shoes made in China, Philippines and his home country. He has lived and worked as a trader in Hong Kong for the last 16 years. His shop is one of many on the very busy first floor of the same building, Chungking Mansions.
A few feet away from Modu’s shop is another shop owned by Babangida, a Nigerian. He sells jeans and shoes made in China, and has been operating this shop for the last seven years.
The number of Africans living and trading in southern China has been on the rise in recent times. Most are traders, but they have started venturing into other activities as well, including teaching English and playing professional football.
There are about 20,000 African immigrants in Hong Kong alone which, alongside Guangzhou, Yiwu, Macau, Shanghai and Beijing, is one of the preferred destinations for Africans going to China. 3,000 of these are permanent residents, while close to 500 are refugees. Most of them are traders, usually in electronics, phones and garments, or operate restaurants. Most of them work and live in Chungking Mansions. [Keep reading here]