In an interview with a Chinese language instructor teaching in South Africa, the interviewee, who was ‘born a crime’ as the third kid in his family under China’s One Child Policy, shared his experience of reflecting on cultural differences between China and Africa: “People call me ‘the question boy’ because I like reflecting on my observations and experiences. There are so many questions to ask.”
Shanghai is mainland China’s most cosmopolitan and outward looking city. In 2010, ahead of the World Expo, it was touted and re-touted ad nauseum as “China’s window on the world”, until most of its 200,000 or so expatriates never wanted to see or hear the slogan again.
The city has communities of Japanese and Koreans tucked away in neighbourhoods that they’ve made their own; in the old concession areas, there are Germans, French and Americans making a life amongst the buildings put up by their pre-1949 forebears. Chilean students mix with Nigerians, Norwegians, Turks and Scots in its dive bars on Friday nights, and there are even a few South Africans, who meet once a month at a pub called The Spot, to drink and complain, about China and home in equal measure, and to help each other find Prestik, Western Cape wines and boerewors, made by a butcher in a suburb on the city’s outskirts. For three years, from 2008 to 2011, my partner and I were two of them.
I am excited to be writing my first piece for the WhoKou project. I guess to give you a proper introduction of myself in my first post, some authenticity would be appreciated. I’ll simply present my various identity documents, and let them speak for me.