It is estimated that there are about 750,000 Chinese nationals working in different African countries, and because the "China in Africa" story is ubiquitous - countless newspaper articles and website posts, video clips and the odd documentary - you catch enough glimpses of the individual lives of this large and diverse group of immigrants - traders and entrepreneurs, engineers, construction workers, farmers, restauranteurs, etc. - to start to get an idea of what life is like for them in their new environment.
Since China's late 1990s economic boom, Africans from across the continent (but especially from West Africa) have also been moving to China, and though no one is sure exactly how many African nationals there are in China, it is estimated that there are up to 200,000 African traders and entrepreneurs in the city of Guangzhou alone (the largest African "community" in China). Because of the concentration of African in this one city, much of the coverage of Africans in China have been on these traders. However, the Africans in China are also a diverse group, and not all of them live in Guangzhou. So we thought it would be interesting for you (and us) to see what some of these other Africans are doing in China, and what it's like to be an African in China.
Here is the first in our new monthly short-doc series, TIA presents: Africa in China.
Sierra Leonean Mariatu Kargbo is best known as a competitor in the 2009 Miss World pageant. She has lived in China for 5 years and in that time has established a strong connection with the place and people. But what's unusual about her is that she has achieved something no other foreigner living in the middle kingdom has been able to do: she became the first foreigner to have the honour of performing the ancient Chinese dance Bian lian. Foreigners and women are not usually allowed to learn Bian lian, so it took several failed attempts before Mariatu finally won the heart of a Bian Lian teacher willing to instruct her in the art.
Gabonese Luc Bendza is affectionately referred to by the Chinese as the “African Bruce Lee” due to his Kung fu and Wushu martial arts skills. Starring in big budget Chinese films, Luc has won the respect of the Chinese entertainment industry for his throws, kicks, punches and dedication to the Kung fu way. He's appeared in 20 Chinese films to date, the latest of which is the soon-to-be-released Jackie Chan vehicle CZ12, aka Chinese Zodiac.