By Nicole Bonnah for Black Lives in China
Two women who are bringing perspective and insight into the realities of the African Experience in the East
“We are on a quest to revamp the landscape of Africa by dissolving existing stereotypes and using our knowledge and experiences to add value and contribute to the bigger strategic thinking plan for the growth of Africa”
A team of dynamic African women are taking the lead by opening up a dialogue concerning their very personal Africa to China experiences. A journey, all too well known throughout the African and African Diaspora communities that thrive, right here in the world’s second-largest economy, the People’s Republic of China.
Wadeisor Rakuto and Sihle Isipho Nontshokweni are a part of a four strong all-female team of writers who were all hand-selected from the University of Cape Town to complete a scholarship programme reading China Studies at the prestigious Yenching Academy at Peking University in Beijing.
I met these two incredibly inspirational women at one of my favourite work hideaway cafes in the Sanlitun area, here in Beijing. I was received in the wonderfully typical South African way; with beaming smiles and full embraces that are hard to break away from because of the genuine warmth you feel.
These bold women are all on a mission to break boundaries to explore, examine and share the various facets of what life is like for them in China, a country with the largest growing African migrant community in Asia – A mission with great purpose and ability to motivate, inspire and transform others.
Documenting and sharing their personal experiences is their precept in creating a wider platform for a discussion about the impact of the growing socio-political relationship between Africa and China; what this relationship means at grassroots levels in both states and what narratives currently exist.
“We are both interested in third world politics and how it is written about in the media,” says Sihle.
The Africa to China blog that Wadeisor and Sihle collaboratively write on is directly inspired by their need to discuss the shared and diverse experiences of their journey here in China. Wadeisor beamed with excited urgency as she told me more.
“We didn’t find much about African’s writing about China. We wanted to share what our personal experience was VS what we thought we’d find and what we didn’t find.”
Between their personal voyages as African women in China and their academic backgrounds in International Relations and Political Science they are in good stead to speak on the deeper mechanics at work in Sino-African relations from an African perspective.
The Scholarship program they have been awarded with to complete a Masters in China Studies has brought together 100 students of excellence from different universities from around the world. The program is intended to provide these global leaders of tomorrow with a better understanding and insight into the next possible superpower of the world, China.
“There’s a shift towards Asia and its role in international relations…” and because of this Wadeisor also remarked that how the bringing together of these individuals reflects a new paradigm shift concerning China and its global positioning in the future.
But aside from state-level positioning and re-positioning, as the geo-political arena transforms, so does the communities it governs. Hybrid racial and cultural spaces are developing throughout China, particularly as a result of Africa-China relations, one of which I like to coin the Black Orient.
The Black Orient is a socio-cultural space where an African and Diaspora presence collides and negotiates with native Chinese society, which is entrenched in time-honoured traditions, customs, and ideologies.
“I think there is (a ‘Black Experience’)…how one engages with a new country, a new space, a new city depends on the person they are,” explained Wadeisor, “beyond the experiences that define a person and what they do, I do think that there is an experience that black people can generally relate to and it starts with small things, like hair!” [KEEP READING HERE]
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