The Chinese are adept at adapting. See them navigating the markets, streets and tro-tros of Accra in 90-degree heat like true Africans. They’re telling us without uttering a word that they’re here to set down roots at least for a while.Whole families have come, it seems. Darting through the crowds in small but perfectly ordered ant-like patterns, paying little or no mind to anyone else but the people in their group, and the odd sellers, street vendors, and bus drivers with whom they must conduct business.
The Chinese always seem to me so much more at ease in their African surroundings than most other foreigners on this dark continent. Some even appear strangely content in a way that few other expats ever seem to portray in their dealings with the Motherland. As if they were here for a higher purpose – a greater good – like a man out prospecting for gold, perhaps.
But our Chinese guests are seen by some in Ghana as the latest colonisers of this land. For we are well-known both far and wide as being resource-rich yet dirt-poor. And as a rapidly developing China needs more and more raw energy to devour and grow, are these not her foot soldiers?
Fascinating, this Chinese-people watching I do. So like some Ghanaians, in certain cultural and even physical aspects, that I used to imagine in the early 1990s when I travelled across this entire country, how they must share a common ancestry with at least one of the ethnic clans in these parts. Pure imagination, you may say. But this little lot before me now seem to have just come home to roost.
Years ago, I wrote a one-off TV drama on a fast track programme for budding UK writers, headed by Jane Tranter, then at Channel 5. The story of an up-and-coming actor stalked by a crack-smoking South London cabbie was loosely based on real events. Tranter described it as “dark, disturbing and violent.” And I thought that sounds good to me. But she felt it was not something she could develop. In fact, it scared her half to death, she said. So much so, that she would “never go to Brixton again.” And that was that.
An old man walked into the 37th Military Hospital in Accra early one morning. He had known all his life that the 37th Military Hospital in Accra was a place for deserving Ghanaians, and so he had travelled there from far, obviously very sick and in need of emergency care.