Africa’s population is young, and getting younger: 70% of the continent’s population is under the age of 30. In the next 35 years, an estimated 1.8 billion babies will be born, making Africa home to more young people than anywhere else in the world. In China, the post ’90s generation (90后), born after the political and economic tumult of previous decades, are coming of age. As they do, they adopt world views that differ radically—even unrecognizably—from those of their parents’ generation.
One of the major international sagas defining the world these young people grow up is, undoubtedly, China-Africa relations. We have heard a lot about the evolving relationship between country and continent in recent years. About stadium diplomacy and ‘win-win cooperation’, resource extraction and racial discrimination, transnational flows of money and people. Yet much of the knowledge about Chinese-African relations is produced by, well, older people—commentary articulated by political, economic and academic veterans. And, to be honest, some of the frames and narratives are getting a bit…old.
Which is not to shun the careful and hard-won wisdom of previous generations. Other spaces and sites are already doing a great job sharing their voices and highlighting their experience and insight (see here or here or here or here).
But we want a space for us. With the China-Africa Millennials Project (CAMP), we want to give voice to the currently voiceless millions of young people from China, Africa and around the world. We want to insert youth into the emerging kaleidoscope of voices telling and retelling China-Africa stories.
As such, the essays, reflections and reports collected here are authored by “millennials,” all of whom have had some unique involvement in intersections of China and Africa. The pieces range in nature, quality and content. Some are rough, unpolished—a few authors are publishing thoughts in English for the first time, based on micro-research projects conducted over just a few weeks. Others are written by emerging scholars, based on years of careful consideration. Taken together, however, we hope the disparate body of works here will add a sunburst of new and lively voices to existing conversations, chip away at the dominance of stale and aging narratives, and ultimately create new discursive frontiers.
We humbly hope that this space will serve as one in which a new generation of authors, artists, scholars, business people, and wanderers can test out their voices. Can question and explore, share and exchange.
There is a lot to learn from these young people—even our most venerable elders admit it. And who knows? Maybe, not so long from now, some of those posting here will be the ones shaping the narratives of China and Africa.
ABOUT THE CURATORS
Viola Rothschild (罗兰) is a proud 中美混血 (Chinese-American mixed blood) that grew up bouncing between an organic farm in rural Maine and a military retirees’ apartment compound on the outskirts of Beijing. Following her graduation from Bowdoin College in 2014, she spent a year in China on a Fulbright research fellowship learning about the backgrounds, trajectories, and aspirations of African student-entrepreneurs in greater Zhejiang Province. She is continuing her work on Sino-African relations as a Master’s student at the University of Oxford and as a remote researcher at China House.
Zander Rounds (阮杉达), a former Fulbright Scholar, is the current research manager at China House, a Chinese-led social enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya. He graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2014 (Hoya Saxa!). His research interests are transnational and disperse, his preferred methodologies jumbled. In Nairobi, he conducts projects designed to glimpse the perspectives and aspirations of Chinese nationals residing and working in Kenya, in an effort to better understand (and address) the issues overseas Chinese firms tend to be associated with.
Huang Hongxiang (黄泓翔) graduated from the Journalism school at Fudan University and from SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs) at Columbia University of New York.
Since graduating from SIPA in 2013, Huang has worked in Africa as a freelance journalist and business representative/consultant for responsible Chinese investment projects. He is dedicated to working on multi-stakeholder dialogues for China’s Going Out and to ensuring the sustainable development of Chinese overseas investment.
Huang is the founder and CEO of the Nairobi-based China House Kenya, which provides consulting services to Chinese companies in Africa on sustainable development and investment.
Lucy Liu (刘璐茜) currently works as an Executive Assistant at China House in Nairobi, Kenya. Besides business programs and wildlife conservation campaigns, she is highly involved in China-Africa research programs with younger fellows as a former journalist and NGO professional. Lucy graduated from the Department of International Politics at Fudan University, Shanghai.
Find her on LinkedIn, or contact her via e-mail at email@example.com.