1.02.2012

Cargo adverts


Cargo is a Ghanaian drink, gin bitters precisely. Cargo has released adverts that have become viral in Ghana and have apparently resulted in spin-off dance styles and a fashion line. The stars of these ads are Oboshi, a plus-sized Ghanaian woman and a random Chinese dude.


Here is the first Cargo advert;





In the second ad, the Chinese man marries Oboshi (and speaks a little Twi).



Trust the comments below this video to be all about Chinese imperialism and modern day colonisation of Africa. As usual, the critics are usually people with one form of white exceptionalism or the other. I have more respect for people who can constructively critique China's engagement with African countries and provide solutions rather than throwing words such as neo-colonialism about.

Despite cultural barriers and what not, I believe it is pretty obvious that these ads are to be taken lightly. They are not serious. The people in this video do not seem to in any way feel threatened or scared by Chinese people.

There is worry that the Chinese are integrating into our African system. I have no idea where that from? In my Nigerian experience, people on the ground seem to be happy that the Chinese are trying to 'integrate' except when the Chinese people they work with are abusive. As trade and relations between China and Nigeria has grown, I have discovered that my extended family has not been spared. There is me who went to study politics and Asian studies so I could write my dissertation on China's 'win-win' African policy.

There is the aunt, my uncle's wife who travels to southern China every year to buy furniture and household items which she sells in her own store. She has links with both African and Chinese merchants in Guangzhou. She is a true African business woman. There is even my aunty's husband's brother who works for Chinese employers in Lagos. It was from him that I heard that Chinese men love partying and want to know Nigerian holidays so they can mark their calendars ahead and plan how they are going to drink and pick up ladies. I have more and more friends who work with Chinese people and their general consensus falls along the lines of 'these Chinese people are funny/amusing but they are okay.' Not too many take them seriously.

A lot of the time when I see people of African descent leaving comments online linking China-Africa relations to neo-colonialism, I immediately assume that the people leaving those comments must be based outside the African continent and depend on Western media for their news. Sometimes they do not have to be living abroad though because thanks to colonial mentality, there are Africans who wait for any Western news source to tell them how to think.

At this point, I'd like to suggest Pambazuka to everyone seeking well-researched, objective, African-centred articles and opinion essays. Lately, I particularly enjoyed reading this article, 'Barking up the wrong tree' which discusses the "Western racist stereotypes about China's 'neo-colonialist' expansion in Africa" (please note the comment below that essay, the one that mentions 'reverse racism' against European companies and states). I find this mention of China's "neo-colonialism" very distasteful when the CFA franc is still being used in Francophone West Africa (read this, 'Slavery by another name: CFA franc' to understand). In the end it all boils down to sustainable leadership in African countries, so I'll reserve my anger for our incompetent leaders and messed up political system.

I shall quit discussing politics and attempt to end on a somewhat lighter note. The second Cargo ad reminds me of another Chinese man I've seen lately dressed in traditional clothes of his adopted African country, presumably Uganda.

Source: Independent.co.uk
The man in the image above is Liu Jiangjun, you can read more on him here where he is quoted as saying; "Some Chinese men marry African women; they like African girls because they are very slim."

I have openly criticised non-Africans wearing African fabric (due to cultural appropriation), I am not entirely comfortable seeing Liu Jiangjun kitted as a chief (for some reason I thought they gave him a chieftain title). On the other hand, I totally understand when it comes to the Cargo ad because that was a wedding scene.

With this Cargo ad, I can finally end this post on a lighter note.


Shalai tue!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for these vids. I'm a fish out of water here, as an American, but I'm interested in learning more about how the Chinese-African trade relations are in reality (not just how they are ominously portrayed on CNN etc).

    I have to admit it made me uneasy to see the obese African women shown, like maybe this was yet another round of "let's show how undesirable black women are" meme.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I can't say much about this african-chinese relations, but the videos were funny if not a little disturbing with that freakish laugh.0.0 I do plan on reading the article you recommened though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The music alone transported me to every African gathering I've ever attended.

    My sister was recently in Cameroon and she talked about how the Chinese "just blend in" with everyone else. They own the same types of kiosk, they speak the local dialects, they listen to the music, and the case of the late "Liu Kramer", they even perform our music in our dialects (Liu performed makossa from Cameroon).

    As for the imperialism thing...*sigh*. My sister noticed that whatever the French and British built during the colonial period is now gone. Meanwhile, the Chinese are building roads and infrastructure which are clearly solid (and far less expensive). They're thinking long-term investment in the countries and their people, not "What can we squeeze/threaten/abuse of these people now, and then conveniently forget about later?"

    I maintain...Europeans didn't blend in. They had no respect for our languages or cultures; in fact, how many of us have seen African history whitewashed and twisted all to hell? They raped our women, and tried to exterminate various tribes, but they sure as hell didn't marry us, build homes, and settle down with us.

    So if people are going to accuse China of colonizing Africa, they really need to explain themselves more thoroughly, because there is a solid precedent to compare them to.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The second ad reminds me of something my former lover used to say, "Bones are for the dog, meat is for the man."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Interesting commercials. Granted I'm not well verse in the China/African relations either but the videos didn't scream imperialism. Okay it's been a LONG time since I'd read any history but my impressions of imperialism is people coming in and forcing their ideas on others as well and/or not interacting with the native people of the land. But this Chinese man is participating in THEIR activities and befriending them. Is this ad only airing in Ghana or other places? Additionally is are there larger populations of Chinese people in areas of China (where this ad is being aired)? Maybe that has something to do with the reactions to the commercials? ::needs to do research >_< ::

    ReplyDelete
  6. I always like looking at things that comes from other countries..in this case, with Ghana.

    It's evident that the critics don't get the meanings of imperialism and doing business is because imperialism isnt what I see here. One thing that I've always thought is that Black people( especially those from Africa) and Asians have far more in common with each other than other races of people.

    I'm actually enjoying reading about Liu's article. From what he said, he's impressed with Ghana, especially with those slim Ghanian women he talked about( I just find it funny that he added that in there.You know he's been eyeballing them).

    Europe didn't respect Ghanians and other Africans as he didn't respect Africans from all over the world. It seems that, People like Liu are interested in Ghana's business world, culture and people. If the Ghanian people are content with their presence in their country, so should the critics.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello,
    I have been lurking for a long time but this has intrigued me so I decided to come out of lurkdom. Call me AC. It is amazing how we as westerners seem to believe that African peoples would lay down willingly to be colonized again. Isn't that what many countries had fought over a half century ago. China is not colonizing Africa. The Chinese gov't went to African countries with a deal, you give us resources and we will help you with developing your countries economy. They did not go to these countries with guns and the bible to force the people to accept them. That is what Europe did.
    To be honest we already know that Europe and the US is threatened by a strong China and well in the future India. The west will lose all influence and free dibs on natural resources for toxic goods poisoning our environment. Also this will threatened the white man's burden belief that white is right and everything else is wrong. A few days ago i was watching Morning Joe on MSNBC and Zbignew Brezinski was discussing China. He went on to say that although China will be a dominant force in the world, the west should not allow itself to fall because we are the "beacon of democracy" and we must show the world how to live freely. Hmm I think this man is in denial. The western world is on the down now and the only way for that to stop is another war. Which sadly I can see in the future. Concerning Africa, if China was indeed colonizing Africa you better believe there would already be a war or sanctions against China if they did not own the US debt because there is no way the the EU or US would loose out to all those free natural resources without a fight.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Joyful

    I'd take every single piece of information on Africa from Western media sources with a healthy dose of salt. There is no reason for the Western media to portray these anything that does not serve their interests positively. Pambazuka has a few publications on China-Africa relations featuring diverse perspectives from African and Chinese voices. Also Deborah Brautigam's blog 'China in Africa: The Real Story' is worth a visit.

    I initially felt the way you did wrt the way Obosi was shown but I don't think she's supposed to be undesirable. In the ad, with the wedding scene, the Chinese man picks her over a more 'conventional' beauty.

    @AfroTina

    Yes that laugh is disturbing! I hope you enjoy the articles when you find the time to read them.

    @Ankh

    I maintain...Europeans didn't blend in. They had no respect for our languages or cultures; in fact, how many of us have seen African history whitewashed and twisted all to hell? They raped our women, and tried to exterminate various tribes, but they sure as hell didn't marry us, build homes, and settle down with us.

    I've seen more Chinese in open air markets than the oyinbo who enjoy walking around like they own the place. It is really telling that today, young Africans don't seem to understand what colonialism and imperialism look like. One thing I learned in December 2011, was that colonisation never ended and 'independence' is noting but a farce. Sure the 'colonial masters' left however they were swiftly replaced with Western and international organisations that seem to have convinced us that they have our best interests at heart. Nonsense.

    I don't get why people are quick to call 'neo' colonialism and imperialism when a Chinese man buys some farmland from a Zambian local and conveniently forgets that word when charities from the USA purchase ancestral land belonging to the indigenous Samburu people from the Kenyan government.

    @Hateya

    Lol!

    @ShaSha LaPerf

    I am yet to see this advert in Nigeria, I don't even think we have Cargo gin bitters here. The most famous gin bitters in Nigeria should be Alomo. Seeing as the ads are in the Ghanaian language, Twi, they are most likely only airing in Ghana.

    Okay it's been a LONG time since I'd read any history but my impressions of imperialism is people coming in and forcing their ideas on others as well and/or not interacting with the native people of the land.

    This is also my impression of imperialism. A lot of folks these days just do not know what they are talking about.

    @M

    One thing that I've always thought is that Black people( especially those from Africa) and Asians have far more in common with each other than other races of people.

    The Chinese have played this card. I remember 2 or 3 years ago, on the FOCAC website, there were essays on the reaction of a Chinese delegation that had witnessed a ceremony in an African country which libations were poured. They were surprised to see Africans offering wine to their ancestors and said there were similar practices in China. This was used as a point to encourage further relations with China and Africa being 'natural partners'.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are no longer accepted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.