Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

China colonising Africa is a myth

MAY 21, 2013. How we made it in Africa. Professor Calestous Juma from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, argues that despite the negative perceptions, China and Africa’s relationship is mutually beneficial.

“China colonising Africa is a myth. We have mutual investment; China investing in Africa and Africa investing in China. This to me is very significant because both sides have an interest in developing a mutual relationship. The rhetoric of China colonising Africa doesn’t make sense. Colonising means taking people’s land, pushing them off and turning them into workers,” said Juma during a session at the recent World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Cape Town.

According to Juma, China came to Africa through an invitation and African governments engage with China out of choice, not force.

Lessons for the West

Juma said that Western countries can also learn from how China works with Africa. He noted that despite the fast paced changes in Africa, in much of the Western world the old narrative about the continent persists.

On the contrary, Juma explained that Chinese leaders take a different approach of learning about the continent first, before further engagement with African countries.

“I have a very different experience when I interact with Chinese leaders. They come to Harvard, attend my classes for three months and educate themselves about Africa. They are starting from scratch and creating a new image of Africa. The Western world should do the same; educate themselves about the continent. This is a new Africa,” said Juma.

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