Lilian Wanjiru Njaramba (right) at the First Forum on International Students from Africa in Beijing on October 17, 2021 (COURTESY PHOTO)
As a Kenyan student who has been in China for the past seven years, I have seen the friendship between China and Africa go from strength to strength. Many elements furthering this affinity took center stage at the First Forum on International Students from Africa hosted by the China-Africa Institute in 2021. African students in attendance took the opportunity to present their strategies to reinforce and sustain this friendship.
During the group discussion on the Initiative for African Students draft, scholars enthusiastically set forth their proposals on ways to inherit the traditional bond between China and Africa from different perspectives, as well as strengthen mutual learning among civilizations. Following the group discussion, the student body decided to appoint me as their designated reporter to read out the draft to the forum.
The initiative established that the China-Africa relationship not only matters to both societies, but to the world. China's continued enrollment of African students marks a next step in ensuring the current youth get a front-row seat to the creation and preservation of this longstanding friendship, paving the way for future generations to guarantee its development. The initiative consequently served as a call on all African students to take action in achieving the unity and revitalization of the African continent.
Students present during the discussions agreed that by creating exchange programs between Africa and China, we can ensure a cross-continental camaraderie and sharing of ideas. We have so much to learn from China, from the nation's incredible work ethic to the fact it remains well ahead of the curve in terms of growth. How great would it be if more information was shared and used to promote progress across the African region?
Participants also expressed how both China and Africa should take an interest in the other's cultures and lifestyles. A deeper cultural understanding can foster mutual respect and sympathy. As Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
The Chinese-African bond can be felt in more ways than one, from education to the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. As a Kenyan student in China, I consider myself an ambassador of this friendship. I have been able to study here under a Chinese Government's scholarship program and upon completion of my studies, I plan to return to my country and not only promote China, but use what I have learned in China to progress my homeland.
Going forward, we—the African youth, African students in China, Chinese youth and Chinese students—simply must build on the foundations laid by our forefathers and make the most of the opportunities available to us in order to create a better China and Africa for future generations.
The author is a postgraduate student from Kenya at the Center for West African Studies with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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