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"Always be a China-Africa friendship enjoy" -- China bond of an African
2016/04/19

Beijing, march 30th (journalists Cui Wenyi and Wang Zhuolun, Xinhua News Agency) -- “I was just a kid in 1984 when I came to China for the first time. My impression of the Chinese people was that they are not rich, but very friendly. It has been 30 years since then, and China’s strength and international position has been raised significantly, but the Chinese people remain that friendly.”

As a member of a delegation of friendly African people, Secretary General Joseph Kahama of Tanzania-China Friendship Promotion Association came to China again last March. When receiving an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency, he recalled his fond memories of the past related to China.

Kahama came to know the Chinese in the 1970s. “It was the first time for me to see the Chinese in Tanzania. I was playing football with several friends of mine at that time, when three or four Chinese adults also joined in. After the match, they gave us sweet candies called Big Rabbit Candy, reminding us to brush teeth before going to bed, and giving us toothpaste and toothbrushes.”Kahama said that story always stayed in his memory.

In the 1980s, Kahama came to know China more. His father worked as the Tanzanian ambassador to China, which enabled young Kahama to visit China several times a year to see his father, able to know many Chinese.

After his father was sent to China, young Kahama was taken less care of. During that time, many Chinese working in Tanzania came to the hearts of the kid, including a Chinese couple called Li Songshan and Han Rong.

As the first batch of Swahili experts China developed, Li Songshan and Han Rong settled down in Tanzania in the early 1990s, focusing on studying Makonde sculpture, a special ebony sculpture arts of the Makonde people, for which they spent most of their time and

money on.

“I went to their homes to eat and sleep quite often. They treated me like their own child, buying me a lot of things and teaching me how to behave.”Kahama viewed the Chinese couple as his own family members, calling them Daddy Li and Mother Han.

“Daddy Li passed away last year, still thinking about promoting the Makondesculpture before his death. Now Mother Han continued his cause. They have contributed too much for Africa.” Tears swelled up in the eyes of Kahama. “Arts embody people’s feelings and pursuit. I will keep to the dream of my Chinese parents, and promote the African art in China,”said Kahama.

The Chinese couple have made a lot of efforts for China-Africa cultural exchanges, including the launching of National Makonde Arts Association in Tanzania, the establishment of “African arts town” in Songzhuang of Beijing, and the building of an African Makonde Arts Museum in the World Sculpture Park in Changchun.

It is only a part of the Kahama’s idea to promote China-Africa friendship through arts exchanges. He said that in Tanzania, China has helped to build railways, roads, factories, hospitals and schools, and Chinese friends have brought technologies, expertise and experience. “They have obviously made our lives better.”

“In the future, I hope to see more Chinese businesses of various backgrounds coming to Africa to open local markets and create jobs for the people, so that more and more Chinese brands can become landmarks in Africa,” he said.

Political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation, enriched cultural exchanges, mutual assistance in security, and solidarity and coordination in international affairs, these are the five pillars of China-Africa relations advocated by China. In the eyes of Kahama, they are sincere and practical, comprehensive and vivid.

Kahama said that China’s real actions have shown that China is sincere in helping Africa to develop. “Such sincerity does not come from words, but from real actions. Africa can see and feel what China has done for them.”

“Over the years, whenever I see so many Chinese doctors leaving their hometowns and traveling far to Africa to provide medical services, I always think about the Chinese I saw for the first time over 40 years ago.” Kahama said that China’s selfless assistance has benefited Africa a lot.

“Time is changing, but friendship remains unchanged. I have been dealing with China almost my entire life. I hope more and more African people can, just like me, be the envoys of exchanges between the Chinese people and the African people, so as to pass on China-Africa friendship from generation to generation,” Said Kahama.

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