Chinese, it's the new black in Kinshasa

In Kinshasa, as in many other major African cities, tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants have taken up residence smack in the middle of indigenous local communities. While an elite minority of Chinese expatriates live in the gated compounds with their western counterparts, the vast majority of Chinese immigrants are far less fortunate. They live side by side in the densely packed shanty towns with the 8-10 million other Kinshasans who struggle each day with water, electricity and security. 


Never before have so many people from such divergent cultures had to assimilate so rapidly on this continent. This is a dramatic departure from past waves of foreign migration to Africa say, for example, by the British who imported South Asians to their former colonies. In those cases, Indians and Pakistanis were tightly segregated from both their white patrons and, in many cases, Africans themselves. This sparked the creation of large South Asian ghettos in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa among other places. No, instead, the Chinese are assimilating themselves in truly unbelievable ways.


Just as it is everywhere else, race relations across Africa are extremely complicated. That said, there is one exception. For most Africans the difference between themselves and foreigners is straightforward: you are either black African or you are “white.” No matter if you are South Asian, Middle Eastern or even African-American, you will likely be described as “white.” It’s essentially an “us and them” mentality. That is, until the Chinese arrived.


On a drive back to the office, I asked one of my local colleagues where the Chinese communities were in Kinshasa. “There is no Chinese community, they live with us,” he said. “They live right next door to me. They eat with us, they shop with us and they even sell “beignets!” (tasty donut-like fried dough). He said when the Chinese first arrived in his neighborhood a couple of years ago, he thought it was a bit strange and kept his distance from the “mundele” (the Lingala word for “foreigner” or more generally used to describe “white people”). Over time, though, he said attitudes started to change as he and his neighbors began to see the Chinese as different from most of the other “mundele” who live in Kinshasa.


“They’re learning Lingala,” he went on, “they eat with us and, most importantly, they are not afraid of us.” Now, more and more, the Chinese peasants who live among the vast neighborhoods of Kinshasa are being seen as less foreign and, incredibly, less “white.” “We joke among ourselves that the Chinese skin is becoming browner and browner to where it’s now black,” he said.


When we arrived back at the office I wanted to find out if his experience was isolated or represented something broader. I asked three other of our local employees what their views were of their new Chinese neighbors and astonishingly they were the same. On a personal level, many of the Chinese immigrants who now reside in Kinshasa have transcended a legendary cultural and racial chasm. It is a testament to the power of making the effort to learn someone’s else language, share the experience of eating with your neighbor and resisting the impulse to be afraid of people who are different. The Chinese have always been amazingly adaptive to different cultures and this may yet be one of their greatest advantages in the latest foreign scramble in Africa.

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agree chines moving everywhere
don't get all fuzzy, claud3, the reality is that the chinese are 200 years behind the concept of colinization and are now catching up. aside from the fact that global colinization is simply a matter of human survival, it still boils down to the fact that, even though the world is not FLAT, it is still ROUND, and there is only enough space for so many of us. as a species, however, only the smartest (most informed), strongest (immunologically), and politically adept (best liars) will turn out offspring that will survive.
No child will be strange witches' neue Brautkleider 2011, so it can also be used in their ideas of Halloween wedding. Many craft neues Brautkleid 2011 offer small broom for Halloween decoration, just buy some, and not drop your creation to add thematic elements or whatever you want on them.
Its amazing how enterprising that nation is.
why are the Chinese moving to Africa in the first place, they normally choose western countries particularly for education and part time work. Africa is the only place in the world that isnt a economical threat to China, if China were to outsource work, as the Japanese have done to South Korea, then Africa would be ideally suited. The Chinese have been sponsoring projects to a number of African governments and I believe that the Chinese have an interest in minerals etc where the price would be peanuts compared to current sellers. The role of these Chinese immigrants are not known and who sponsored their trip and why?
the chines people are moving everywhere and i love the idea of another culture moving to another country. Its a chance to learn from a different culture. Like its always been for amany a years

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