To further complicate my previous blog about my personal experience with Guangzhou being an international city that hasn’t adequately coped with its identity yet, I want to share the following story:
By Roberto Castillo
Is Afrophobia really on the rise in China?
Roughly two months have passed since the Qiaobi detergent advertisement went viral. The advert, in which a Chinese woman shoves a black man into a washing machine only for him to emerge as a shiny, clean, Asian man, prompted Western media to call it “the most racist ad ever”. At the height of the controversy, commentators from all over the world quarrelled endlessly over whether or not the advert was evidence of China being a racist society. Eventually, the Chinese government intervened and the company behind the offensive advert issued an apology.
One night early this month, on my way to meet a Swiss colleague’s PhD students from the university that she teaches at in Germany, a woman in the subway started to talk to me by complimenting my bracelet. She spoke English, so I replied in English that the bracelet was a gift from a friend (probably purchased on one of her travels in an African country). It turned out that this woman on the subway is a medical student at the university where I’ve been hired as an associate professor (this in itself is a story). She stays on campus, but has an apartment far off campus that she goes to on the weekends during the school year and stays at during the summer break when she doesn’t return to the US. Continue reading
This story about Chinese entrepreneurs in Egypt was published in the New Yorker in August 2015. Though not entirely new, it remains newsworthy. In my view, it’s fascinating because who would think that lingerie would sell so well in predominantly Muslim countries? Well, it wasn’t entirely surprising to me, but only because I’ve stayed with a Somali business woman who’s Muslim when I was in Nairobi, Kenya. Her friend gave me a tour of one shopping center that sells fabric and other accessories for making clothes. In that center were many tailors. They were all men. Kenyan women were the assistants, doing the embroidering or pressing works. Somali Muslim women (and perhaps Muslim women from Kenya’s neighboring countries) were the customers. For the untrained eyes, we sometimes fail to see the decorative details on the women’s jilbab. The everyday ones are quite simple, but there are elaborate dresses for different occasions and places. That is to say, just because Muslim women are covered up, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about fashion or their appearance. But, the article goes beyond the lingerie business, offering an African’s explanation for why Chinese entrepreneurs are successful business people and a Chinese’s perception of development in that specific part of Africa.
With this brief introduction, I now turn to Peter Hessler’s article:
By Mansi Choksi and Kim Wall
Mariam Namata’s face was dappled with sweat when she arrived for a job interview at Sunshine Foods, a company that claimed to be Uganda’s first homemade chips manufacturer. It was October 2015, a fierce summer month in the country’s capital, Kampala, and she was nervous. The company’s Chinese boss sat where he conducted most of his business, at one end of a row of four chairs that had been welded together, near a trash can that contained cigarette stubs.
Namata, a 24-year-old woman with a delicate nose and bleached curls, took the seat next to him and introduced herself in Mandarin. She explained that she had studied international finance at Shenyang University, in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning, and asked if he had grown used to eating matoke, an East African dish of steamed green bananas. The boss clenched a smile, and in less than ten minutes, the interview ended. Namata had been hired as the company’s new translator, administrator, and accountant, and she was shown her desk, next to the room’s most remarkable feature: a shelf displaying onion-flavored Happy Crisps, tomato-flavored Pastoral Crisps, and beef-flavored Whirlwind Potato Chips.