Tag Archives: From Africa to China

[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


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.

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


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]


[Reporting Grants] Women and Africa-China Relations: Themed Reporting Grants 2016

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”.

Reporting themes

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 fromafricatochina@gmail.com 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

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 2.18.53 pm.pngFrom 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.


[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]



[vlog] From Africa to China: Strange things we’ve done since moving to China #SinoAfrica

Recently launched blog ‘From Africa to China’ goes into vlog mode:


[Blogs] From Africa to China: Counting Stares

By Wadeisor Rukato for From Africa to China

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.

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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.

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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.


[Blogs] From Africa to China: African in China

By Sihle Isipho Nontshokweni

Nǐ shì nǎ guó rén? This is one of the first socially useful questions that I learnt to ask and answer in my Chinese class. Whilst making small talk with the Chinese guy at the dinning hall, I eagerly showcased my ability to answer this question, in Chinese; “Wǒ shì Nánfēi rén.” To which he responded “Aaah, oww you come from Africa.”

Yes, yes, South Africa….have you–ever–been–anywhere–in…. Africa?

“No-no-no, Africa too hot, too hot.”

The ideas that germinate and take root in the minds of people when you say ‘Africa’, often include a desert like region, one that’s “too hot, too hot.” This distressful weather is usually compounded by her chaos and poverty.

The question of how China regards Africa and how Africa regards China is a weighty and complex question, one worth exploring in our conversations… The character for the Chinese word for Africa, “fei” (非),  means “to not be; not have; not; wrong; incorrect; lack.” Zahra Baitie in her blog asks the poignant question, “why (was) another character with the same sound and tone but a more positive meaning not used instead?”

My time is China has forced me to engage the complex ways in which Africa has been seen and written about. As a black African in China, as a black African anywhere in the world– I suppose,  one commonly carries the weight of such stereotypes. As though one were a part time ambassador for the continent and race at large. On this diplomatic mission, the aim is to dispel theories, recounting lists of men and women who have demonstrated “black excellence” as though that would finally validate  and assure the listener of the continents capacity.

“recounting lists of men and women who have demonstrated ‘black excellence’ as though that would finally validate  and assure the listener of the continents capacity.”

Books such as ‘Africa is not a country’ by Margy Burns Night and talks such as ‘the danger of a single story’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie  have  sought to dispel these inaccurate representations.

Representations of a people whose only job is picking fruit and growing corn. A people who live in the wild-wild, roaming the streets in the company of  elephants, tigers, lions, zee-bras, giraffes. Men with spears hunting for prey to feed tribes. Men so occupied by the wild. So ravenous in their desires, that after a day of being followed by the sun, they indulge… fighting wars on beds with their multiple sex partners.

Others often ask me what it is like to be an African in China? Once, after a strange encounter at the subway I described the stares I received from two jolly looking ladies as: “It was as though, their souls popped out of their eyes when they saw me.” This was the best way to explain the experience. It seemed they were horror struck or… in awe.

In a country where light skin is prized and pursued, I wasn’t sure if they thought I looked burnt or just unusual with my brown skin and nappy hair.  This is a strange thought for someone who usually qualifies as a yellow bone in Winter. The stares have not stopped, they usually follow with stolen snap shots. Despite these issues, people touching your hair, souls popping through eyes, I have felt a warm welcome and friendliness in this country. Smiles on closed looking eyes.

Growing up in South Africa where skin colour shaped my identity and reality, it would be easy to associate the snap shots and stares with racism. But more often than not, I suspect its ignorance than a racist attitude, from never having interacted with a black person before. This perspective makes being a perpetual attraction, less burdensome.

I have been fortunate enough to meet several Africans living in Beijing. Our conversations closely engage this question of being an African in China. What I have found, is that being different can  bolster ones opportunity to learn more intricately both about themselves and society. The contrasts experienced here, make living in China as an African a curious, frustrating yet a fascinating learning experience.

Taken from here

[Blogs] From Africa to China (in a nutshell) – A NEW #SinoAfrica blog

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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!


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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.