Connecting the Dreams of Youth and Creating a New Era for China-Africa Relationship: Young People from China and Africa Celebrating the 20th anniversary of FOCAC
By Sibusiso Reuben Bakana
2 November 2020
As the Autumn season was approaching its end and the world is still finding its way out from the coronavirus, young people from 42 African states, side by side with their youth friends from China were gathered from 25-31 October 2020, in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Before the Chairperson of China Soong Ching Ling Foundation Mr. Wang Jiarui, officially opened the ceremony at the China Soong Ling Science and Culture Centre for Young People, in Beijing, the Peace Angel Art Troupe a Chinese group sang Siyahamba ekukhanyeni beNkosi (in IsiZulu meaning we are marching in the light of God) in illustrating the culture to culture cooperation, one of the people to people’s mechanism.
The Head of the African Union Permanent Mission to China, Ambassador Rahamtalla M.Osman indicated that Africa-China friendship is constituted by elements such as cultural exchange, knowledge sharing, and different experiences amongst young people. He further said by 2050 the African population will double from the current population of 1.2 billion and young people will share a bigger portion, which means the African youth must be at the forefront for the African agenda 2063 and strengthen the friendship with its Chinese counterparts. He also expressed his gratefulness in being able to gather and celebrate the FOCAC 20th anniversary during the pandemic.
African youth and its Chinese peers were then divided into groups to experience Chinese culture in terms of Beijing Opera, Printing and Dyeing, Ceremonial Music, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Woodwork just to name a few. The succeeding day before they departed to Jiangxi Province, young people interacted with the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) an important institution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) led multiparty cooperation and consultation, which is a major form in promoting socialist democracy in the Peoples Republic of China. The understanding of the 71 years old new China from Chairman Mao to President Xi was presented from the art museum and a robust conversation was witnessed in the CPPCC conference room.
The socialist democracy of the Chinese people and their discipline changed the entire picture from the African youth and when they arrived in Jiangxi Province to meet with the Chinese Young Communist League and the Provincial government another interaction took place and young people while presenting their view, were even communicating in fluent Chinese that impressed the locals while they were touring Jingdezhen city, visiting the helicopter production base, National Porcelain Museum (interacting with young Chinese and ceramic artist), experiencing the feeling of art behind ceramic at the Ceramic Art Avenue. That never stopped, as some young Africans after visiting a village at Yongxiu to experience the orange production business at Yijiahe Citrus Base. During the banquet that eveing at Nanchang, they started to dance as they were called by the drums that connected them to Kwame Nkruma, Julius Nyerere, Haile Selassie, Thomas Sankara, Nelson Mandela, just to name a few.
Most of the festival delegation, being based in Beijing, enjoyed the warm weather of Jiangxi. They participated in the symposium and expressed challenges and opportunities to be learned from each other to make the friendships last longer. They were interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine business as was presented by the medical expert Dr Xu Jinshui and wished that Africa can emulate such in promoting Traditional African Medicine. Opportunities for cooperation in research and business were presented by African youth and Chinese youth. The group then went on to experience the first Virtual Reality Industrial Park in Jiangxi province, where a future of work was showcased and how tourism business, e-commerce, etc in the fourth industrial revolution can impact the nature of today’s business and how the Chinese are preparing themselves. That indeed gave more energy as young people started to imagine the future and how the latest technology is working in terms of virtual reality, some were screaming in excitement as the technology drove them along the great wall of China, along with others were playing drums virtually.
Sibusiso Reuben Bakana is a Ph.D. Candidate Beihang University in Artificial Intelligence and a Representative of The Diplomatic Society of South Africa in China. He writes in his personal capacity.