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”.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
From 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.
Recently launched blog ‘From Africa to China’ goes into vlog mode:
Over the last decade, more than a dozen #SinoAfrica documentaries have been produced. Here’s the list of the 13+ must-see films about Chinese in Africa and Africans in China. While the SinoAfrica filmic production is still in its infancy, the materials below are part of a wider assemblage of visual contents (i.e. documentaries, movies, music videos, personal recordings) that when put together give us a very interesting, somewhat comprehensive, perspective on what’s going on between Africans and Chinese in this (transnational) day and age. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the production processes of the materials below still replicate power asymmetries in terms of (global) media representation: an overwhelming majority of the available materials are done by white westerners. So, judge by yourselves, but I believe the ‘eurocentric gaze’ has a grip on the existing SinoAfrica documentary universe.
1. When China Met Africa (UK, 2010) [Chinese in Africa]
This 2010 documentary produced by British brothers Nick and Mark Francis is one of the best films on SinoAfrica relations. With a focus on Chinese in Zambia, the Francis brothers comprehensively explore the many layers of Chinese involvement in the country. This is a documentary about grassroots exchanges between Chinese and Africans that manages to represent the SinoAfrican encounter in all its complexity. Amongst the 4 or 5 documentaries that I show to my ‘Africa China Relations’ students at HKU, this is generally their favourite. Great teaching resource! Full version available for online rent here (IMBD: 6.2/10 – 77 votes) | web: http://whenchinametafrica.com/
2. Empire of Dust (Belgium, 2011) [Chinese in Africa]
At first, it’s difficult not to be suspicious about this documentary. Bram Van Paesschen, a Belgian national, directs a film that features the cultural encounter/clash of a Chinese and a Congolese in Congo. The risk of the typically biased eurocentric gaze runs high here. However, as you watch, the film becomes a really unique piece portraying the SinoAfrican everyday and the cultural (mis)understandings between Leo and Eddy (who’s perfectly fluent in Mandarin) – both men work for the Chinese Railway Engineering Company (CREC). Slow narrative, and at times seems as if it was acted, but it’s definitely worth watching. Not very suitable for classrooms (if you ask me). Full version below (7.3/10 – 61 votes)
3. The Africa China Connection (Netherlands, 2012) [Africans in China]
This is among the first documentaries that looked into the flipside of Chinese presence in Africa: Africans in China. This is perhaps the strongest reason to watch the film. Dutch director Pieter van der Houwen makes it clear since early on, ‘The Africa China Connection’ is a ‘Western’ perspective/reflection on why are Africans going to China – and NOT to Europe. Arguably, the documentary is not so much about ‘Africans in China’, as such, but about Europe’s alleged decline. In the eyes of van der Houwen, (Fortress) Europe has managed to isolate itself to a point in which it’s not attractive to Africans anymore. A yearning for the days in which young Africans dreamed of Europe (and only Europe) underwrites the film’s narrative. Critically, van der Houwen tackles some issues surrounding African presence in China (i.e. visa problems), but he mistakenly assumes that China makes it easy for foreigners to stay in the country. Having said this, the discussion about mobility/migration comes across as interesting – mainly because philosopher and political scientist Achille Mbembe, and Ian Goldin, former Vice-President of the World Bank & advisor to Nelson Mandela, analyse the significance of changes in the destinations of the African diaspora. A fly-in/ fly-out perspective but still worth the while. Full version not available (Not rated) | web: FB page
4. China Remix (USA, 2015) [Africans in China]
American directors Melissa Lefkowitz and Dorian Carli-Jones explore Guangzhou’s burgeoning African entertainment industry through the lives of three African hip-hop artists who are trying to find success in the face of China’s challenging labor and immigration laws. The film follows the entertainers as they prepare for their shows, perform, and live their daily lives with their Chinese and African family members and friends. Also a fly-in/fly-out perspective, but very worth watching! Suitable for classrooms (short documentary).
Full version here (Not rated) | web: http://www.chinaremixmovie.com/
5. African boots of Beijing (South Africa, 2006) [Africans in China]
A 2006 documentary film by Luke Mines and Jeremy Goldkorn about Afrika United, a team of Africans playing in a football championship league in Beijing, China. Full version (Not rated)
6. King Cobra and the Dragon (2012) [Chinese in Africa]
People and Power sent Sino-French academic Solange Chatelard and filmmaker Scott Corben to Zambia during the presidential elections in September 2011 to investigate whether Africa has entered a new era of colonialism with Chinese firms maltreating workers and devouring the continent’s natural resources. Full version (Not rated)
7. The Battle for Africa (2014) [Chinese in Africa]
China’s big arrival on the continent has challenged Western powers and sparked debate about a new Battle for Africa. But the real Battle for Africa is between Africans and its leaders – a battle for better governments. Al Jazeera English’s People and Power program broadcast this two-part documentary hosted by veteran journalist Sorius Samura. Full version (Not rated)
8. African Business in China (2015) [Africans in China]
Many African entrepreneurs today consider China as the new land of opportunities. One of them is Nathalie Fodderie from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). On a reconnaissance trip to Guangzhou, in Southern China, she has three weeks to find equipment for her Kinshasa restaurant that needs complete refurbishment. Fodderie works with an established network of African and Chinese middlemen and traders and haggles with some of the toughest businessmen in the world. Aljazeera’s Witness takes us through her journey, as she grapples with geographic and cultural hurdles to make a profit. Must documentaries about Africans in Guangzhou are about Nigerians – this is a rare exception. Worth watching! Full version (not rated)
9. The Chinese are Coming (UK, 2011) [Chinese in Africa]
Travelling across three continents, BBC correspondent Justin Rowlatt investigates the spread of Chinese influence around the planet and asks what the world will be like if China overtakes America as the world’s economic superpower. While many in the West view Africa as a land of poverty, to the Chinese it is seen as an almost limitless business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the fearless Chinese entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses. Worth watching and suitable for classrooms – the least popular of the documentaries that I show to my students, though. Full version (IMBD: 5.8/10 – 48 votes)
10. Faces of Africa – When Chinese Meet Zambians (China, 2015) [Chinese in Africa]
Full version (not rated)
11. 中国人在非洲 – Chinese in Africa (China, 2015-16)
12. China in Africa (2016)
13. A Guangzhou Love Story (USA, 2016?)
In China, an unprecedented surge in African migration has led to a rise in marriages between Chinese women and African men. A GUANGZHOU LOVE STORY captures the love, heartache, and real life challenges of Afro-Chinese couples attempting to forge a meaningful future together in the face of racism and xenophobia.
14. Guangzhou Dream Factory (USA, 2016?)
GUANGZHOU DREAM FACTORY is a documentary portrait of the African communities of Guangzhou, China – currently in post-production.
Extra – TV shows (Al Jazeera & CCTV)
I started to write this post on the sixth day after my arrival in Beijing in August 2015. I finished it almost six months later on the 30th of January 2016. I am happy to finally be able to share it.
Today is my 6th day in Beijing, China. I feel as though I have been here for considerably longer. Since my arrival, my days have been filled with everything from trying new food, doing on campus admin, looking for parts for my laptop, getting medicals done for a residence permit, drinking Chinese beer and learning Chinese. The sun has shone relentlessly at a high of least 32 degrees Celsius since my arrival and the days have been divided into those with clear blue skies, and those with a smog induced milky white sky.
Before I left South Africa I received all manner of preparatory and survival advice, tips, secrets and information from friends, family and acquaintances. While some of this advice was considerably insightful, some of it I listened to and dismissed quickly because it seemed loaded with generalisations that I didn’t feel comfortable adopting in the absence of personal experience.
I am a young black woman from Zimbabwe who grew up in South Africa. I have dark skin. This being known, I can’t count on one hand the number of people who warned me to prepare to be stared at, photographed, poked, prodded or marvelled at. This advice sounded dramatic at the time. I spoke to my dad who had travelled to Guangzhou recently, and his experience seemed mild enough.
In any case, I found it worthwhile to write about and share my experience of being stared at since I got here. I have mostly found it amusing and also very interesting. Staring is not a habit unique to any one group of people. While some people stare more often than others, one usually stares at something when it is different, curious, intriguing, confusing or stands out. On the other hand, people also stare out of shock, amusement or disgust.
Given my observations, the greatest number of stares has come from young children, the elderly and men. Some stares are brief, and quickly broken by the eye contact of my reverse stare (which I am gradually perfecting I might add). Other stares are long, brazen, and include a slow and deliberate up down scan with the eyes.
Now, if there is such a thing as a level up to staring, it would be the aggressive picture taking. I was amused by the poorly-executed attempted discretion of the first photo taker. Said lady pretended to be looking at something on her phone, which she held up at face level. She maintained this odd position as she probably tried to focus the image and had to turn around as I walked past to get the shot.
The second photo taker tossed all discretion out of the window and pointed his little digital camera right in my face before casually proceeding. I experienced a sense of genuine amusement after both incidents. I also experienced a sense of shock because I had formally been dismissive of the fact that might be photographed in this way.
I stopped writing, until eight days later:
8 days after beginning this piece, I have a total of two weeks lived experience in Beijing. The stares are no longer surprising. I have now digested the reality that part of looking so different in what is an incredibly homogeneous society are the reactions to that difference, in whatever form they may come.
With race issues being particularly personal for me given my up-bringing in South Africa and Zimbabwe, I now intend to more actively explore the nature of the race discourse in Beijing and maybe even China. This will include looking into the existence and character of colourism among Chinese people.
The last two weeks have exposed me to one or two other things I was either told about or read online in preparing for my stay in Beijing. One of these is related to the forewarning or alert about the frequency of gob and saliva spitting in public. While I find this particularly disgusting, this does not happen as often as I had feared it would (gratitude is endless in this regard). The noisy churning of gob from deep in ones throat and the subsequent spitting of this gob on the walkway, at the base of a tree or wherever really, does however happen a lot more than I would like or than I have ever experienced.
The Associate Dean of the program I will be undertaking summed up my current experience of Beijing quite perfectly. The jist of what he said is that, Beijing is the kind of place where in one sitting you can have can have an experience that reinforces and affirms your love for the city and its charms. However, very soon afterwards, you might have an experience that makes you feel the complete opposite way. It is really a topsy-turvy, dynamic place that needs to be experienced beyond what is apparent at face value.
Six months later, I finally finish this piece as I prepare to post it on the blog:
Picking up and learning the eccentricities of a new place, weather pleasant or not, is generally always an exciting process. In the six months since arriving in Beijing, there has been no end to the various opportunities the city gives you to learn it and be confused by it. Reflecting on my first two week’s perceptions of is so interesting because when asked about my stay in China thus far, I no longer really feel the need to talk about stares or saliva because there are so many other more interesting things to talk about.
From Africa to China is a new blog run by four southern Africa graduate students in China. As stated in their ‘mission’, these four ladies 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’. By the looks, something worth to keep an eye on!
Wadeisor Rukato is a Zimbabwean who has lived in South Africa for the past 19 years. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor’s Degree (Honours) in International Relations and wrote her Honour’s thesis on the effects of migration on development in Zimbabwe. Wadeisor aspires to work at the intersection of consulting and journalism on Africa in the future.
Thuthukile Mbanjwa is a South African from Kwa-Zulu Natal. She holds both a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cape Town. Her focus area is civil infrastructure. She intends to use her knowledge in infrastructure economics to contribute to growing South Africa’s economy and greening Africa’s construction industry.
Nothando Khumalo is a Swazi from Manzini. She graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor and a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering. She specialized in transportation and plans to go back to Aurecon when she completes her studies. She wishes to work in an environment, or on projects that combine civil engineering with economic development, policy planning and sustainable development.
Sihle Isipho Nontshokweni is a South African from the Eastern Cape. She is completing her Masters in Political Science at the University of Cape Town. A unifying theme in her research has been the motivations for and barriers to Youth Development. Sihle aspires to play an integral role in the formulation of entrepreneurial education, building curricula that can equip the youth with entrepreneurial skills to develop their communities.
List of the most relevant academic resources on African presence in China – Entries appear in a chronological order. This list is NOT exhaustive, I’ve omitted articles that repeat (copy & paste :() previously published research.