This is a very interesting watch that should pique the interest of all of those who shriek about “western neocolonialism” in Africa. The reality, as I’ve written about before, is that China is becoming the biggest power-player on the continent. In this video we get to see the challenges faced by the Chinese as they try to bring back infrastructure to Congo. It is impossible not to pity the locals when the Chinese boss points out that everything that the Belgians left behind fell into disrepair and neglect once the Africans gained responsibility… The Congolese are charming when they are “allowed to be themselves” but the second that punctuality and efficiency is on the agenda the documentary becomes a tragic portrayal of a continent that maybe should just be left to its own devices. …I probably feel this way due to the sad eyes of the locals 😦 The Chinese are workaholics and evidently love to engage in nation building. This obviously clashes with a culture where time and long-term planning is regarded as something abstract. It is therefore not particularly fair to compare African nations to hyper-productive, uber-efficent “ants in the ant colony,” as maybe it would be better to pass on the African continent in silence and refrain from comparing it to “international standards” set by other groups. If one subscribes to current narratives of equality it would be more moral to look another way.
UPDATE: So of all things … I was introduced to an old relative during my last Norway trip who had been at sea while the colonies were still a thing. Guess what he described without me having told him about this documentary? Whenever they came to a port in Africa, they would need some local help. The locals would work for 2 hours until they were fed and then they would run away since they only wanted the food, while those who stayed the whole day to work would disappear once they got paid, never to be seen again. I couldn’t believe my ears, as this was precisely what the Chinese complained about in the documentary above from 2011. This relative also pointed out that those who live on Greenland only have one month of growth, in terms of agriculture, while the Africans have 12. You never hear about the people of Greenland starving. Interesting how I had never thought of that. I didn’t even know. He also pointed out that the most well-run colonies were the English ones. Which is something I’ve heard others say as well.