Category Archives: blogs

[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

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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.

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Ms Tebogo Lefifi opens the inaugural South Africa Week Media Appreciation event. Image by Uchenna Onyishi.
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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”.

 

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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]

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[Blogs] Black Lives in China: ‘Black Orient’ #SinoAfrica

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”

From Africa to China

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.

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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.

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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]