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Faces of Africa > Program Video

Faces of Africa 12/04/2016 When Chinese meet Zambians

CCTV.com

12-04-2016 18:29 BJT

Like many African countries, Zambia has attracted many Chinese in recent years. Frank Fang and Dr. Gao Kenan came to Africa over two decades ago. Frank arrived in Africa for the first time in the 1990s. He used to work for a company in his home province in China that deals with international cooperation. The company would occasionally send its employees abroad.

“Everyone in the company competed to go abroad. If we couldn’t make it to Europe or America, Africa was not a bad choice,” Told Frank. Few years later, Frank was deployed to Botswana. “I remember the time I arrived, the sky was so blue, the clouds so… it felt just like the wallpaper of Windows. And I thought this place, I love it,” Frank recalled.

His love for Africa further grew when he visited Cape Town, South Africa and the Okavango Delta in Botswana. “The trip had tremendous impact on me. After the trip, I wished to stay in Africa so I would have more chances to visit places like that, or even more beautiful than that,” he told.

Frank showing the place he stayed for about forty days when he arrived in Zambia for the first time

Frank showing the place he stayed for about forty days when he arrived in Zambia for the first time

Frank quit his job and decided to stay in Africa. Together with his friends, they moved to Zambia and started a new life there. “Living in Africa is not like living in China where everything seems preplanned. There are young people, who like to break up the pattern. I belong to this small group of people. So when I arrived in Africa, I felt this is the place for me,” told Frank.

Frank Fang with his wife Lucy. They have 3 boys. They live in Zambia.

Frank Fang with his wife Lucy. They have 3 boys. They live in Zambia.

He married a Zambian girl Lucy, and together they have three boys. He transferred all his assets from China to Zambia and started a clothing store together with his wife. Fifteen years on, the clothing business has grown. They now run a number of chain stores in Lusaka, where they have employed about two hundred Zambians.

The intermarriages between the Chinese and Africans were at the time rare and without controversy from both sides. “Chinese men are not very open and accepting as other races are. It’s normal that they feel difficult to accept this. And I am prepared to cope with the prejudice,” he told. Today, Frank is thrilled to see his children enjoy the continent’s beauty and his feeling about Africa remain indescribable.

Dr. Gao went to Zambia in 1988 after she landed an opportunity to offer medical services in a military hospital in Lusaka. “I was a bit bored with my life in China. I used to work at the central military hospital in Beijing. One day I heard the news that a medical team was recruiting doctors to be deployed to Africa. I thought that was great,” told Dr. Gao.

Her first encounter of Africa was not any different from Frank’s. “After our plane landed, I saw the sun beams breaking through the clouds. That looked so gorgeous! That was a wonderful moment for me,” she recalled. In 1994, she rented a house in Lusaka and renovated the garage which she turned into her own dental clinic, K.G. Dental Clinic that runs till today.

Dr. Gao with his employees and the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda.

Dr. Gao with his employees and the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda.

 But it was very hard to operate a clinic in Lusaka at the time. “The facilities were all very backward. People had to fly to South Africa for treatment,” she recalled. But she was relentless. She invited doctors from South Africa and trained Zambian girls to help. One of the girls was Faith.“She was teaching me from scratch because I had no idea about dentistry,” told Faith. When Faith joined the clinic in 1995, she was straight out of high school but Dr. Gao gave her the opportunity to learn.

Dr. Gao Kenan (left) attending to a patient. She lives in Lusaka where she has opened her own dental clinic.

Dr. Gao Kenan (left) attending to a patient. She lives in Lusaka where she has opened her own dental clinic.

“The girls were in fact very bright. I used to write down notes for them specifying what to do on a particular case. After several practices, they would get it,” said Dr. Gao. Dr. Gao was very impressed by how Faith grasped everything quickly and offered to facilitate her going to college. “She facilitated me going to school, and I got a diploma in dental therapy,” Faith recalled.

Dr. Gao with Faith, her assistant dentist.

Dr. Gao with Faith, her assistant dentist.

For twenty seven years, Dr. Gao has lived and enjoyed the beauty of Africa as well as Frank. Africa has become their second home. “Once you are “bitten” by Africa, you will never be cured. After visiting some places and meeting some people, you may never want to leave Africa. I can’t explain why,” told Frank. 

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