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.
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.