New Documentary Portrays Nuanced View of Africans’ Experience Living in China

A China in Africa Podcast

When filmmakers Zhang Yong, Hodan Abdi, and Fu Dong set out to make a new documentary on the African migrant experience in China, they were determined to ensure that their own voices and experiences came through in the story. Until now, most if not all of the documentary films on Africans in China have been produced by Westerners, so it was very important to this filmmaking trio that an authentic, blended Chinese-African voice frame the narrative of their film.

Africans in Yiwu is a long-form documentary that portrays the lives of a group of young, ambitious African migrants in the Chinese coastal city of Yiwu. Little known outside of China, Yiwu has been one of China’s leading trading hubs for over 2,000 years and is now home to People’s Republic of China’s second-largest population of African migrants.

The film is now making its way through the African and Chinese film festival circuit and will soon be available to view online on U.S. and Chinese social networks.

One of the film’s co-creators, Zhang Yong is also the Executive Director of the Center for African Film and TV Studies at the Institute Of African Studies at Zhejiang Normal University. He joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the project and why he felt that it was so important for this story to be told from a distinctly Chinese and African point of view.