Why are Africans Bitter with the Chinese?

Wait a minute. Why are we all mad at the Chinese? From here in Nairobi in the East of Africa, all the way to the West, and from the north to the South the talk is the same. Is like people are being suffocated by the presence of the Chinese.

You go to some place and you find communities literally baying for their blood. Crying and blaming everything; from unemployment to lawlessness, from poverty to miscarriages and death, to why they haven’t seen rain in months. And the list goes on. And it’s all crazy.

Sometimes back in college, I remember a friend of mine whose home is in the Maasailand — he’s not a Maasai himself — telling me of an incident between the Chinese and the local Maasai community. The Maasai felt frustrated with the Chinese who were working on the SGR (standard gauge railway) in their land. How could the Chinese go to their land, get access to their resources and not employ their people, not even as security guards. They come with their own workers and piss on their land, trample on the grass that their livestock feed on, the livestock they depend on for livelihood with their heavy machines.

So the morans (Maasai youth) in solidarity with their elders, like it’s their norm, devised a plan to punish the intruders.

Wielding spears, bows and arrows, machetes, clubs and a host of other crude weapons (You’ll think it’s Shaka’s asegai warriors), they surrounded the Chinese camp and laid down everyone flat on the ground, including the security guards — not sure if a police officer was among them — and flogged the hell out of them.

And it is not just this one alone, I’ve heard, read and witnessed such violent acts perpetrated against the Chinese. By why is this so?

Today there’s a violent uproar around Africa, voiced mostly by the youth who feel left out. It’s reported there are over 10,000 Chinese owned firms operating in Africa. And in all these firms, only a handful of the employees are Africans.

Most of the African youths are well educated but very few find employment. And you will find most of these firms outsourcing workers, to a simple truck driver from the homeland. Where do they expect our fresh graduates, our young engineers to find jobs if they can’t take them in? I’ve had a chance to closely observe them in Kenya and one thing I observed is that even a store keeper is a Chinese with the locals only doing the hard manual jobs like digging where their heavy machines can’t.

You know what else is enraging, the fact that these Chinese people will hardly consume the local products. They carry their own foodstuffs and only spend in “Chinese Restaurants”, money they’re sure will find it’s own way home. Rarely would you run into a Chinese couple in the Village Market looking for a souvenir to take back home. They’re here for business, period. You will rarely see a Chinese man wondering in Koinange Street, Nairobi in the wee hours of the morning having spend some of his cash on some local girl.

And the other reason for this hostility is the imbalance in trade. For instance tea is Kenya’s major export, and China is the world’s largest consumer of tea but only ranks 29th in terms of our tea export destinations. In Uganda, it’s said the ratio of imports to exports to China is 22:1. Seriously! And you expect the locals to love you. You take something, give something back, and that’s the way it is.

But should we really be blaming the Chinese alone? What about our own governments?

True, the Chinese are unscrupulous, coming in like Trojan Horses with unclear intentions, but above everything else, they’re business people who saw an opportunity and seized it. That’s what business people do allover the world.

Africa accounts for 30% of the world’s reserve of hydrocarbons and minerals. Africa is a rich continent, and it’s only normal that everyone wants a piece of it.

For many years the West had Africa and took it for granted, and now that it’s embracing the East, they feel threatened. the other day you saw the US First Lady, Melania Trump visiting Africa. She was not just here to feed baby elephants — tripped and nearly twisted her ankle by the way — and to see the vulnerable in our community! Did you see the timing? It came immediately after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing.

Instead of blaming the Chinese who are just doing everything possible to survive and feed their “mega” population — sustaining a billion plus people is not a joke — maybe we should be pointing our angry fingers in the other direction, to our respective governments.

Someone is welcoming these guys into our countries with open arms and forgets to monitor whatever they’re doing as soon as they’re settled. Some of them are involved in bad business practices, abusing Africans by overworking them and underpaying them and no one is saying anything. We are not giving them conditions on how to operate in our land and how to handle our resources, and how to treat our people with dignity. Sometimes back we saw a video that went viral of a Chinese man insulting our President and our people. The imbecile was calling us monkeys in our own home! Later on he was of cause forced by his people after feeling the backlash from outraged Kenyans to offer a flimsy apology. The harm had already been done.

Some of these huge Chinese firms don’t even pay taxes and some bribe their way into anchoring on our shores. They win mega tenders from the government at the expense of our struggling local companies because a huge chunk of the payment will go into a few powerful individuals’ pockets.

We are looking at these people like they’re here to colonize us the way the Europeans did. Who can blame us! Not with the rumors coming out of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and close home, Zambia who it’s said they’re deeply in their debt.

Might be misconception, but what are the leaders doing to correct them? What do they expect us to think when there’s very little or no transparency on their part. Do they ever tell us of their meeting with the Chinese delegates? What they discuss in those boardrooms! They don’t tell us whenever they take those loans from the Chinese!

Come in the open and tell us like civilized people if you took a loan. We will want to know how much you took and which projects you intend to fund, so as citizens, we can be well equipped to hold you accountable. When everyone is vigilant, the government will have to account for every single dime it spends. Not just start overtaxing people like our Kenyan government is doing now to fund nonexistent projects. My future child already has a debt on its head, 8% VAT! Rumor has it that the Chinese SGR has zero ROI. Do you still want to blame the Chinese?

22 thoughts on “Why are Africans Bitter with the Chinese?

  1. I agree that the government is a big part of the problem, Madekesi. It is here, too. I have always felt shame for the way every government has taken advantage of Africa and its people, it’s own included. The few corrupt rich get richer off the labor of the poor who are just trying to live. It has never been right and never will be. Judgement Day is coming, though. Someday, this will all be made right!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you brother for dropping by. It’s sad what our governments do! I just think we should be directing our frustration at the government for it’s them who welcome in these guys in and don’t even monitor there activities. The Chinese are gaining so much from us at the end of the day and it’s only failure they give back something in return!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting that you’ve been bringing this stuff up. I’ve been becoming more aware of China’s presence in Africa recently. There’s a YouTuber I follow named Dr. Mumbi Seraki who’s a Kenyan woman who covers African news. I actually posted an article with videos of that Chinese guy saying racist crap about Kenya and one from Uganda where the Chinese were caught doing illegal mining and the Chinese guy assaulted a politician. Zambia has been getting outraged with the swift takeover going on there. You do make some valid points. The Chinese business people and immigrants should take the blame (saying nothing about how they would NEVER act like this in America or Europe), but the governments need to take responsibility for not doing enough for their own people. They can start by demanding fair wages and fair market prices for all the minerals and resources.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! Well said. My argument was actually as much as we would love to blame the Chinese, our governments are the problem. They’re not doing enough in terms of regulating and managing the operations of the Chinese firms and it’s people in our countries. Our officials are corrupt and get involved in shoddy deals that only leaves their pockets rich while the whole nation pays with their sweat and blood. Thank you so much for your feedback and have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! You had some good points there. I also wondered about all these bases popping up like how Djibouti has a presence from China, US, Italy, and France. No problem. I do wish things get better. Thanks, and you, too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My friend, I’m afraid that this was predicted to happen several years ago. But if the Chinese workers are attacked then everyone will see them as victims and feel sorry for them. However, they have very little freedom. If Africa can teach them what it means to be free then more freedom for all may happen. I believe that the American revolution happened because of the interaction between the Native Americans and the European settlers. The European learned that the king was an oppressive dictator and became fed up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sure, I totally agree that attacking the Chinese is acting savagely but it’s the way some part of the population is showing it’s frustration! It’s okay to have foreigners on our land, it’s helping us grow and the Chinese have been behind our infrastructural development and we have to appreciate them for that. But the problem comes in with the ones with bad intentions, the one treating the locals like they’re less humans. The ones feeling like they’re doing Africa a favour!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for posting this for us. Here in the U.S., I have heard so little and it has been so vague. I feel so dreadful that your country is once again being taken over by others. It is truly a sad situation. I think a lot of countries are losing their freedom as they once knew it.

    You have written very articulately. I hope you will be able to continue to be a spokesperson for your country and let everyone in other countries know too what is happening. The fight for freedom everywhere seems endless. I don’t usually post anything political on my blog, but it is strange that today as I read this, I had found something I had written and it seems to appropriate for all of our countries. Once again, thank you so kindly for keeping us informed. I hope that you will always continue to write what is in your soul.

    Like

    1. Thanks Anne! It’s always a pleasure hearing from you. I just feel like I too have a responsibility to tell the world what we feel. It’s my own view of my world. Thanks for your encouraging feedback and have a wornderfu time over there!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s very important to express yourself on this issue as it is a major one, and I think you told it very well so that people understand the implications of what is happening in your country. People around the world really need to know these things because they are signs of our world disintegrating as we know it. People have sat around too long feeling comfortable because they had gotten freedom, but now it is going away because people forgot that freedom and work for everyone is a responsibility and none of us can sit back and wait for someone else to do it for us. Thank you again.

        Liked by 1 person

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