China-Africa Trade: Will the bedroom determine progress in the boardroom?

In 2010, the son of a wealthy Sichuan man married a former Miss Kenya. The two met and fell in love despite their cultural differences. 

A year later, a man who hailed from Hubei Province found a wife in a Tanzanian charmer, as another Chinese man wedded an Angolan lady. 

Such interracial couples are rare in Africa, but growing. As of 2010, studies show that about 10 percent of all new marriages in Africa were between spouses of a different race. This is almost double the 6.7 percent in the 1990s. 

The surge in numbers is an indication that attitudes toward multiracial marriage are changing. Just three decades ago, it was practically impossible to hear of these relationships. Back then, cross-racial marriages were illegal, strongly discouraged or frowned upon in Africa. 


Historically, mixed race marriages in Africa were seen as a recipe for cultural dilution. Now, there is a drastic shift. Today in many African countries, interracial marriage is commonplace. 

Bloggers and media outlets give people tips on mixed marriages. Among the current generation, the young observe that even cultural clashes cannot bring down a well-founded interracial marriage. 

Perhaps the most conspicuous interracial marriages being witnessed today in Africa is between Africans and Chinese. As Chinese firms help in economic development in Africa, Chinese men are also winning the hearts of African ladies. 

Since the implementation of the "going out" strategy, a large number of Chinese men have married African women. This has become very common in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. 

Away from routine conferences, African leaders see China-Africa relations could be cemented through the new-found interracial marriages. Although China-Africa cooperation has reached a stage where both sides can freely sit down and talk about key and difficult issues without feeling the other side may be offended, there still are some biases and suspicions. 

There have been frequent stories of Chinese in danger abroad, triggering renewed debate over how China should relate with Africa. Last year, 29 Chinese nationals working for a road-building company were abducted in the volatile state of South Kordofan. And in Zambia's capital Lusaka, Chinese shopkeepers have also been victims of incessant attacks by gangs of looters.

Marriages between Africans and Chinese will trigger stronger people-to-people exchanges, providing a strong pillar for the healthy development of China-Africa relations. It will at the same time further deepen China's understanding of Africa's political, legal, spiritual, economic and social characteristics. 

Perhaps the future of Sino-African trade lies in these very personal relationships.

By: Mark Kapchanga

Previously published as: Bedroom may be better bet than boardroom for African ties with China – The author is a journalist on African issues based in Nairobi, Kenya. Source:



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