The above paradox might have been nourished by the Chinese non-interference policy in other nations’ affairs and especially African political setups which have been mostly influenced by outsiders. An interfering attitude from the West has made them more heard and renowned in comparison to their Chinese counterparts. This explains why many things are measured by Western standards in Africa, civility is often regarded as Western made. Misguidedly, for many to appear modern, they have to copy anything Western, even those considered unimaginable in their traditional setup.
In 2016 after winning a Chinese sponsored scholarship; the anxiety and reality of coming to face with this negative perception was giving me sleepless nights, “How will life be in an environment where you don’t know anyone to talk to or extend an assisting hand in case needs arise”? That was but one of many questions swirling in my mind. On the evening of 11th Sept. 2016 I landed at Beijing International Airport; to my surprise, at the exit after having finished security clearance, I saw a placard with my names being held by a young unassuming man sporting a white polo shirt and blue jeans. By his appearance, I considered that he may be a student... he was. I approached him and he politely asked me ‘are you Kur John Aleu’? ‘Yes I am’ was my answer. He led me to a taxi yard and we drove to the campus.
My first morning at Beijing Jiaotong University was a remarkable one; we were led to the international student office, given our settlement allowances and assigned some students to help us do some shopping in the nearby malls, the level of kindness, generosity and humility displayed that day and which I still experience during my daily encounters with other Chinese people changes the perception I once held towards them. In fact the actions of most Chinese people are centered and driven by the desire and beliefs of doing good deeds.
To summarize my findings, the most notable attitude the Chinese people share is their respect for the elderly and authority; upholding good deeds is so central in their cultures, this trait is informed by the blessings believed to be associated with living a righteous life; a similar sentiment to that which is also held by most African societies. While advancing technologically, Chinese people still hold to their traditions; this is so tremendous and I wish our African societies could learn from this, civilization and technological advancements are not supposed to replace traditions.
Written by: Kur John Aleu
Master Candidate of Transport Engineering
Beijing Jiaotong University.
Our editorial team is made of writers who have studied and/or lived in China. They share China's story with South Sudan.
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