News / Asia

African Immigrants Talk About Life in Beijing

African Immigrants Talk About Life in Beijingi
|| 0:00:00
X
Shannon Sant
August 27, 2012 8:27 PM
Chinese companies have invested heavily in Africa, in recent years, and trade among Asian and African nations has soared. As their economic ties have grown, so have the number of African immigrants to China, now estimated at around half a million people. Shannon Van Sant talked with Africans who have re-located to the Chinese capital city about why they decided to move to China.

African Immigrants Talk About Life in Beijing

Shannon Sant
BEIJING — Chinese companies have invested heavily in Africa in recent years and trade among Asian and African nations has soared. As their economic ties have grown, so have the number of African immigrants to China, now estimated at around half a million people.

Turay Lamin owns Africa House, the sole restaurant serving pan-African cuisine in Beijing.  Although many of Turay’s staff and friends are new to China, he is not. Turay moved here in 1989 and says China was a part of his life even as a child... in Sierra Leone.
 
“There was a time when the Chinese were building a cross border-bridge about 10 minutes away from where I grew up and there were so many. That was the first time I saw so many non-Africans,” Lamin said.
 
The construction workers were also the reason he began learning Chinese at 13.
 
“My home was a bread-making one, a kind of catering, and we were supplying them with bread. They actually gave me a book, a Chinese book. That’s when I first learned the word 'xie xie' (thank you),” Lamin said.
 

Many Africans say they come to China for the opportunity to build their entrepreneurial dreams. Adams Bodomo is a professor at Hong Kong University, who spoke to VOA via Skype.
 
“These two parts of the world, China and Africa, are having closer and closer relations at the government level. You are also having closer and closer relations at the people to people level,” Bodomo said.
 
Rose Lin Zamoa moved here six years ago to work as a fashion model and start a catering business. She says China was a shock from her native Ghana. “I felt almost like an alien, if you know what I mean,” Zamoa said.
 
She says she is treated differently because of her race, but the questions she faces on a daily basis are more from curiosity than judgment.
 
“The kind of racism I experience here is completely different to the racism you would probably experience in America or in London, for example. And, by far, I prefer the kind of racism I get here in China because it’s kind of cute, in a way,” Zamoa said.
 
Many immigrants have more serious concerns with their treatment in China, where they complain they are routinely scrutinized by police. Their physical appearance makes them stand out, but Professor Bodomo says Africans are treated worse than other foreigners.
 
“This is a fact. You can see it for yourself. I have experienced it for myself. Africans in Guangzhou, on the streets of Guangzhou, are often stopped more than any other group of people in the world,” Bodomo said.
 
Despite the challenges, Rose says that, for her, Beijing now feels like home. She is able to bond with her Chinese friends and customers because of a shared passion -- food.
 
“The Chinese culture and the European culture is completely different. It’s very close to African culture. Very,” she said.
 
Although many immigrants like Rose say they eventually plan to leave China, restaurant owner Turay says he is here to stay. With more Africans moving to Beijing, he says business is booming.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid