The new Angola: made by China

Lucy Ash of the BBC World Service has written an interesting feature on the Chinese workers who areChineseworkers
helping to rebuild Angola, a country still recovering from civil war.

Three hours south of the capital, in the coastal town of
Sumbe, I find a team of 95 Chinese men finishing a technical college
and about to start work on a hospital. The site is set back from the
road and surrounded by a high fence.

Inside is Wang Weiheng, a 28 year old doctor from the
Chinese city of Chonqing, whose job is to look after the construction

"I try my best," she says, showing us the spartan
dormitories where 10 men sleep in bunkbeds draped with mosquito nets.
"But in the rainy season we had several cases of malaria."

In the kitchen are lots of paper signs in Mandarin taped
to the wall. Weiheng says they tell the cooks which foods some people
will not eat.

"I don’t like pig’s ear or leg of pork; others don’t eat beef," says Dr Wang.

"Our food is very important to us – it stops us from feeling too homesick." [Link]

Chinese food is important to me too —  it stops me from feeling too sick of home food.

Dr Wang says she saw the job advertised on the internet.
Her husband, whom she met a medical school, also applied for a posting
in Angola.

He is the doctor at another building site in the town of Uaco Cungo, a day’s drive away. Neither had been abroad before.

"In my mind, Africa was a country filled with animals
like zebras and lions and lots of grass," laughs Dr Wang as she looks
across the dusty, flat landscape beyond the camp. "So when I got here
it was a big surprise."

What a brave woman! She thought Africa was full of animals like zebras and lions — and she still went.

My translator, Lucy Corkin, an academic from South Africa, is researching the impact of Chinese credit across the continent.

She explains that a few years ago an overcrowded China
decided to encourage its companies to invest abroad by creating the
"Going Out" policy.

The idea was to expand excess capacity overseas and to cut unemployment at home.

"China has an unemployment rate of about 9% – not much
by a developing country’s standards, but nine percent of 1.3 billion is
definitely a lot of people."

Government official: "Dr. Wang, instead of being unemployed in China, we’re sending you to Africa to work."

Wang: "Oh no! Won’t I be attacked by wild animals?"

Official: "No, Dr. Wang, the crew we are sending you with is very well-behaved."

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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