China-Africa - Different People, Common Culture.


China-Africa - Different People, Common Culture.

By Godlove Bainkong

Technocrats here believe fostering people-to-people contact could make existing friendship ties more fruitful.

China and the 54-nation African continent may not be neighbours on the world map but the two share common characteristics that are historically-rooted. The former lies in Eastern Asia while the later is located south of the Mediterranean Sea bordered by the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. Different in location on the global space and people, China and Africa share one thing in common - culture, although one is already far advanced in their destination - growth.

Culture China.jpg On May 22, 2007, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Darfur Liu Guijin (right).

According to Prof. Li Anshan of the School of International Studies, Peking University here in China, both China and Africa have the same experience of being colonised and humiliated, and both have witnessed the struggle for liberation, independence, development and national dignity.

In a lecture at the Renmin University, Beijing on Monday March 14, 2016 to some 20 African journalists undergoing a ten-month programme in the country, the university don said the now blossoming cooperation ties between China and Africa are not by any means accidental. He observed that, "cultural offering represents a concept of equality and sense of sharing which lays the foundation for better bilateral relations and would make a greater contribution to a more harmonious world."

That Africa today has China as its strategic development partner, covering the shortcomings of the continent in funding infrastructure development and participating in their execution as well as empowering the continent's youngsters professionally, is therefore no surprise. Tapping the rich God-given resources of the continent to balance the relations only makes the Sino-African ties mutually beneficial. More so for the people who have come thus far and should know who they are, where they are, where they are going and how to get there.

Others like Prof. Li here in Beijing believe that knowing each other well helps in better relationship and since China-African cooperation is heading for the skies, there is need to deepen the knowledge. This explains why China runs 38 Confucius Institutes and 10 Confucius classrooms in 32 African countries. Cameroon has one on the IRIC Campus in Yaounde. Meanwhile, African businessmen also contribute their knowledge, language skills and values to China. This is the case of Cameroonian-born Gizelle who runs a hand-made African decor and furniture shop in the Chinese locality of Yiwu. She is one among many.

Prof. Li Anshan holds that beyond deepening the economic cooperation between China and Africa, there is also an urgent need to highlight people-to-people contacts for better cultural interaction, offering and mixing for it is the means for mutual learning and understanding. "This is equal exchange of ideas without superiority or inferiority. If propaganda replaces the people-to-people contacts, not only is the result less effective or even negative, the friendship may even be damaged," he said, insisting that the two cannot afford that having come thus far.