China land of opportunity for some young Africans

Fri Nov 6, 2009 3:22am EST
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By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - It's not yet four a.m. and Vimbayi Kajese is already arriving at China Central Television (CCTV) for another day in her job as mainland China's first African news presenter, and the face of a growing community.

Kajese is one of an increasing number of young Africans heading to China, as the country's booming economy and ever-closer ties with African nations create opportunities as tempting as any in Europe or the United States.

China's African community has grown dramatically since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, with as many as 250,000 in the country at any one time, say experts in Hong Kong.

Many are traders sourcing cheap China-made goods to sell back home. They throng to export hubs like Guangzhou where a "Little Africa" has sprung up that boasts ethnic shops, eateries, and export malls crammed with everything from fake designer jeans to bright African textiles.

But young professionals are also finding a niche in every sector from television to cutting edge entertainment.

A 28-year-old from Zimbabwe, Kajese reads the news on the top of most hours from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on CCTV 9, China's state-run English language channel that is its mouthpiece to the world.

Despite the early starts, with half an hour in the make up chair alone, and the stress of going live to air, Kajese says she is grateful for the chance to boost understanding.

"There's a lot of Chinese people that might not have met many Africans, and so now is an opportunity to say 'Well, why does she speak like this or why is her hair like this?" she told Reuters between live broadcasts.   Continued...