Chinese trader awarded traditional Nigerian title

For those who believe the Chinese are clearly, having a major influence in Africa, hold your breath and think twice. The word influence is more than an understatement. Clearly, the Chinese are becoming part of Africa indeed. Recently, a prominent Chinese businessman Mike Zhang has been awarded a traditional title in the northing city of Kano, Nigeria, in recognition of the Chinese business relationship with Nigeria. Mr Zhang was appointed as “Wakilin ‘Yan China” meaning, ‘the leader of the Chinese community,’ by the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi.

With the appointment, Mr Zhang will be expected not only to identify with the Kano’s society, but he can also equally attend meetings at the Emir’s palace. That is not all; Mike Zhang may be part of a Durbar, the prestigious old custom traditional horse riding festival, which takes place during the Eid festivals.

The appointment of Mr Zhang is seen by many as another progressive move by the Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi to modernise the conservative Emirate, to reflect the present realities. However, to critics, the appointment is ill-conceived, having in mind, according to the opponents, that the Chinese have little knowledge of the Emirate’s traditions and culture. But the Kano Emirate argued that the appointment is necessary, in view of what it calls “an increase in the number of Chinese businessmen who engage in different forms of businesses without a unified leadership structure.” It is, therefore, expected that Mr Zhang’s appointment will go a long way in acting as a liaison between the Chinese community in Kano and Kano traders in times of conflict – especially business-related problems.

Definitely, whether one sees the traditional title award as a move in the right decision or not, the one thing is clear: The Chinese are not only increasingly wielding powerful influence in Africa; they are part of the African social, political and economic life. Apart from various government contracts in Africa, being executed by the Chinese, you see Chinese wherever you go in Africa, engaging in all sorts of businesses. Some of them do not only speak the languages of their African countries, where they stay, they even marry African women. Definitely, the Chinese are in Africa to stay.