The Newsletter 81 Autumn 2018

A Chinese migrant in Tanzania: Jackey Zhou

LI Xiangyun

<p align=\"left\">Jackey Zhou studied French at Yunnan University in the early 1990s. After graduation, he worked for a pharmaceutical company in Kunming. In 1999, the young Jackey Zhou was sent by this company to work in, what he would later describe as, “the mysterious continent of Africa”. Thus began his life in Africa, which lasted for nearly two decades.</p>

When he first arrived on the continent, Jackey Zhou worked as a salesman of artemisinin, an antimalarial. He still remembers the experience of being robbed for the first time. On the morning of 9 April 2000, he was walking on Karl Marx Street in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, taking photos of the scenery. Suddenly, three young black men rushed forward, pushed him to the ground, and stole his camera. At first he was scared, but then he jumped up and chased after the men to get his camera back. The price he paid was a seriously injured right thumb. Later, he settled in Tanzania to marry and have children. He no longer impulsively chased thieves.

Jackey Zhou has two children, a handsome boy and a pretty girl, both born and raised in Tanzania. They study at international schools and are fluent in Chinese and English. To maintain the children's Chinese language skills, Jackey Zhou and his wife speak Chinese with their children at home. He has also invited Chinese students from the University of Dar es Salaam to teach his children Chinese at home. In addition, he takes his children back to his hometown every year. Besides visiting relatives and friends, he has also traveled with his children all around the motherland.

Fishermen in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Reproduced under a CC license, courtesy Rajesh India on Flickr.

Jackey Zhou is a warmhearted person. He has several good Chinese friends in Tanzania. They all came to Tanzania in the 1990s and struggled from youth to middle-age. During the Spring Festival, they gather at Jackey Zhou's home. His virtuous wife prepares a full table of dishes. Everyone drinks wine, talks about the world, and enjoys each other’s company. Jackey Zhou’s home also serves as a temporary hotel for good friends visiting Dar es Salaam, or for those who have had too much to drink. Every Chinese scholar who has done research in Tanzania in the early 21st century knows of Jackey Zhou.

LI Xiangyun, Assisiant Professor, Center for African Studies, Yunnan University (

This essay is based on the author’s fieldwork in Tanzania, conducted in 2016, for the project “Chinese Immigrants in Tanzania”.

The Center for African Studies at Yunnan University (CASYNU) is an academic institution specializing in African research and talent cultivation. Currently there are 7 full-time researchers and 10 part-time researchers, with 26 Master’s and Doctoral candidates at the center. The center has also invited experts and scholars to form an academic committee, which is chaired by Professor Liu Hongwu.