Africans in China: Sweet and Sour in Guangzhou

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science on 2010-09-16 04:57Z by Steven

Africans in China: Sweet and Sour in Guangzhou

The Africa Report

Namvula Rennie

Deterred by immigration controls in the West, African families and traders are moving to major Chinese cities, adding a new dimension to China-Africa relations.

It’s raining again in Guangzhou. The downpours are sudden and violent, but do little to cool the city or relieve the cloying humidity. It is an ugly place and the uniformity of its sprawl is disorienting. Under the grey skies, the traffic flows relentlessly through webs of flyovers and underpasses, around towering apartment blocks and multi-storey shopping complexes. Here you can buy anything: leather, shoes, wigs, handbags, jeans, luggage, electronics, jewellery, plumbing, picture frames, reflective strips, motorbikes and even African crafts; original or copy, you can find it or get it made.

Africans are flocking here—the wealthy, the hopeful, the ambitious and the desperate. In the heartland of the southern Chinese economy, where commerce and industry are king, Guangzhou is both a city and a dream for sale. Many find what they seek, but for others, imagination is painfully disappointed as myth 
collides with reality…

…It was at an RVC service that Pastor Augustine met his Chinese wife, Bessie. As they walk to the store, sometimes arm-in-arm, passers-by stare openly at the rare sight of a mixed-race couple. Their four-year-old daughter—with Chinese features and an afro hairstyle—attracts even more attention, as she chirps away merrily in Mandarin. Pastor Augustine and Bessie are used to others’ curiosity, but worry about how it will affect their daughter and her baby brother.
What seems certain is that, as they grow up, these children will face more complex challenges than their parents did. The talk of brotherhood and mutual benefits is at odds with the daily experience of Africans in Guangzhou, yet Pastor Augustine clings to optimism. His hope is that this new generation of mixed-race children will become “the ones the Chinese cannot refuse”, softening mutual distrust and paving the way to a more peaceful society…

Read the entire article here.

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