Influence of Chinese communities in Africa grows stronger

China 24

China’s influence on Africa dates back hundreds of years. In South Africa, some Chinese have called the country home for generations.

Moreover, the Chinese community is making every effort to integrate into the wider society.

CGTN’s Lindy Mtongana has more.

Hundreds of years ago, the first Chinese came to the far-flung southern tip of the African continent, most of them originally from southern China.

In the centuries since, they’ve made homes there.

In downtown Johannesburg you can find the Hong Ning Chinese Aged Home. In Chinese culture, families take care of the elderly.

It’s lunchtime at the Home, and food’s being prepared for the residents — a meal you won’t find at a regular old age home in South Africa. Joan Sing is one of its residents.

“I was born in South Africa in 1934.  We had hard times as a family of six.  I went to a township school. The Chinese school was small, but we couldn’t go, We lived in Alexandra Township. I was very happy there at the school.”

The history of the Chinese in South Africa is a long one.

Dianne Man knows all about it — she quite literally wrote the book, with help from her co-authors.

“The first arrivals came around 1660. There was a big wave of immigration with the gold rush,” Man said. There are, in fact, two Chinese communities in Johannesburg.

One is the new generation of people who come from China to work; the second is the Chinese who are South African citizens.

There are other persistent challenges too for both these Chinese communities. Some businesses have been targeted in recent waves of xenophobic attacks.

But Chinese communities in South Africa also do their part to help the country they’ve grown to love.

They’ve donated to children’s homes, for instance and helped firefighters during recent disasters.

“It’s so heart-warming for us to be able to have the Chinese community here locally. They’ve gone above and beyond,” Mandy Spies, corporate fundraiser for SOS Children’s Villages said.

South Africans too have been getting to know China better.

Chinese New Year has in recent years become an event for all South Africans — for Chinese who are seeking new opportunities here, and for South Africans who are keen for closer contact with an ancient culture.

Emira Woods discusses Chinese communities living in Africa

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Emira Woods about Chinese communities living in Africa.