Big Trouble in Little Africa

2 August 2009

Vom Toronto Star:
GUANGZHOU, China: … At a busy intersection in the heart of this southern city recently, angry Africans carried a bleeding black man, held aloft, across eight lanes of heavy traffic to deposit him smack at a police station’s door. Almost immediately hundreds of other Africans converged on the station – shouting for the police to come out and take responsibility…Trapped in a police raid on illegal immigrants that afternoon, Okoro chose to leap from the second floor of a shopping mall rather than be arrested.He landed on his head.Now, as he lay unconscious on the station’s doorstep, angry protestors fanned out into the street – blocking traffic, ripping up plants, waving tree limbs and denouncing the police.It took six hours to restore order. No serious injuries were reported.

Wer ist Schuld?

Ojukwu Emma, president of the Association of the Nigerian Community in China, who has lived and worked here for more than 10 years, says China is a huge magnet for African traders, and it pulls in more every day. … He doesn’t blame the Chinese for that. He says his people – Nigerians – need to take responsibility: they need to understand and respect Chinese law. “China is a communist country,” he says. “They’re not like us, a democratic country. They have their own laws and regulations that we have to respect. “You can’t blame the Chinese law for people carrying fake passports,” he stresses. “We have big problems … and it’s making (Chinese) people change their minds. “At first, they welcomed us.” He worries that Nigerians, in particular, have worn out their welcome. “We have to rebuild our image,” he says. … “It’s time we put our own house in order,” says Emma. “Shutting down traffic was wrong. I don’t support that kind of activity.”

Wie immer sind die Dinge nicht so einfach wie sie zunächst scheinen:

Ishmail, a trader from Nigeria’s economic capital of Lagos who owns two shops in that city, says the situation on the ground in Guangzhou is more complicated. … “Plus the pressure and the tension associated with these raids is insufferable,” he adds. “People are being detained for three, four, six months at a time before they can pay their 5,000 yuan fines (about $800). Then if they’re released they face the cost of a $2,000 (U.S.) air ticket home. No one can afford that.”But isn’t China just doing what any country would to ensure visitors’ visas are in compliance with the law, he’s asked? “In Nigeria we are free,” Ishmail implores. “We have two Chinatowns in Lagos. The government set aside land for them. No one in Nigeria asks Chinese people to show their visas. Here they can stop you on the street for no reason. And there are more Chinese in Africa than there are Africans in China,” he says. “Plus, they are welcomed in Nigeria.”


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