Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan in Tanzania!

[above left: Tanzanian stamp honoring The Scholar and the Athlete, Bruce Lee… and above right: Tanzanian stamp sheet honoring Jackie Chan (The Clown and the Athlete?)]

Yes, my people are AWEsome. My colleague Elitumaini told me the other day that Tanzanians view Chinese people as friends. “We have been a socialist country, and so for some time the people of Russia and China helped us build our roads and schools and hospitals. Chinese people are our friends.”

While the people of Europe, US, and colonial South Africa exploit Tanzanian labor and natural resources, the people of China are helping Tanzanians build their own infrastructure. Granted, there are a number of opportunists here who have set up businesses, but apparently the Chinese business people are not seen as exploitative as the South Asians or Europeans. Nor do the Chinese people seem to pretend to assuage imperialist guilt by setting up feel-good-do-little NGOs. There are many Chinese doctors and civil engineers here quietly doing the work and not making big noise about it. It is a very different presence.

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