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China's Afro Town aka Chocolate City Where Nigerians & other Africans Live with their Chinese FAmilies

(***)Fine(***), a Nigerian who declined to give his last name and his Chinese girlfriend pose outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Some African migrants are able to operate businesses through Chinese partners, although permanent residency is almost impossible to acquire.
(***)Fine(***), a Nigerian who declined to give his last name and his Chinese girlfriend pose outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Some African migrants are able to operate businesses through Chinese partners, although permanent residency is almost impossible to acquire.

 

Guangzhou, China - African migrants have been arriving in Guangzhou, China's third largest city ever since the Chinese economic boom began in the late 1990s. 

Current estimates put their numbers anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000. The latter figure would place their population at almost two percent of Guangzhou's 13 million residents. In any event, Guangzhou's Africans constitute Asia's largest African community. The majority of them reside in a 10 square kilometre area in the central districts of Yuexiu and Baiyun locally known as "Chocolate City".

Many of Guangzhou's Africans are short term residents who arrive by plane on 30-day tourist visas with little more than the clothes on their backs and as much Chinese yuan as they and their families can cobble together. Their plan is to purchase cheap goods to sell back home, which may be anywhere from Lagos, Nigeria, to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Abubakkar Barrie, 32, an MBA student from Sierra Leone, manages other traders' shipping by selling space in shipping containers. "I came to China because it is the centre of international business," he says.

Although he is excited by the opportunities available in Guangzhou, Barrie admits that there are cultural barriers for Africans in Guangzhou. "Although I work with many Chinese, I have never once been invited to their homes."

Barrie's friend Bah Umaru Alpha, 26, is worried about the Ebola outbreak in his home town of Kerema, but with his own business to run, a wife and a nine-month-old child, returning home is out of the question. 

Unlike African migrants who have children with Chinese nationals, African couples in China have no access to state healthcare and education. “As my son gets older, I'm worried about him being allowed to go to school. He was born here, but he doesn't have the same rights as Chinese children,” Alpha said.

 

Two female African worshippers walk by a throng of beggars as they leave the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral after Sunday service. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia and the church(***)s English language Sunday service attracts more than 1,000 African Christians each week.
Two female African worshippers walk by a throng of beggars as they leave the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral after Sunday service. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia and the church(***)s English language Sunday service attracts more than 1,000 African Christians each week.
Bah Mohamed Alsrahid, 32, from Kerema, Sierra Leone, travels the subway. Bah, who studies mining engineering at university in Wuhan travelled to  visit some Sierra Leonean friends.
Bah Mohamed Alsrahid, 32, from Kerema, Sierra Leone, travels the subway. Bah, who studies mining engineering at university in Wuhan travelled to  visit some Sierra Leonean friends.
Abubakarr Barrie, 32, is an assistant manager of an international freight company, in the Tianxiu Building, that ships goods to West Africa. Barrie is currently completing an MBA at the university in Guangzhou, which has the largest African community in Asia.
Abubakarr Barrie, 32, is an assistant manager of an international freight company, in the Tianxiu Building, that ships goods to West Africa. Barrie is currently completing an MBA at the university in Guangzhou, which has the largest African community in Asia.
Mohammed, a Nigerian who declined to give his last name, negotiates the price of underwear with a trader at the wholesale market inside the Tianxiu Building. Mohammed had flown from Lagos to purchase underwear wholesale for sale in Nigeria. 
Mohammed, a Nigerian who declined to give his last name, negotiates the price of underwear with a trader at the wholesale market inside the Tianxiu Building. Mohammed had flown from Lagos to purchase underwear wholesale for sale in Nigeria. 
An African family wait at a bus stop in Xiaobei district, which is known for its many wholesale markets. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia and an African quarter colloqially know by its residents as (***)Chocolate City(***).
An African family wait at a bus stop in Xiaobei district, which is known for its many wholesale markets. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia and an African quarter colloqially know by its residents as (***)Chocolate City(***).
An African woman walks past a store specialising in wigs and hair extensions at a wholesale market inside the Tianxiu Building where many Africans have offices and residential apartments.
An African woman walks past a store specialising in wigs and hair extensions at a wholesale market inside the Tianxiu Building where many Africans have offices and residential apartments.
An African man walks by a store specialising in attire for Muslim women at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia with a floating population of traders who fly in on 30-day visas.
An African man walks by a store specialising in attire for Muslim women at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. Guangzhou has the largest African community in Asia with a floating population of traders who fly in on 30-day visas.
Bah Umaru Alpha, 26, from Kenema, Sierra Leone, and his nine-month-old son Mohammed, at the window of Alpha(***)s apartment in the Tianxiu Building near Xiaobei metro station.
Bah Umaru Alpha, 26, from Kenema, Sierra Leone, and his nine-month-old son Mohammed, at the window of Alpha(***)s apartment in the Tianxiu Building near Xiaobei metro station.
Three African women get pedicures at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station.
Three African women get pedicures at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station.
African women shop at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. 
African women shop at a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. 
Bah Abdoulaye, 42, and his Chinese wife and their two daughters at their clothing shop in a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. Abdoulaye, who fled civil war in his home in Sierra Leone obtained a refugee visa through the UN.
Bah Abdoulaye, 42, and his Chinese wife and their two daughters at their clothing shop in a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station. Abdoulaye, who fled civil war in his home in Sierra Leone obtained a refugee visa through the UN.
An African woman crosses a road near a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station while an ethnic Uighur from Xinjiang Province sells kebabs from a grill by the roadside.
An African woman crosses a road near a wholesale market near Xiaobei metro station while an ethnic Uighur from Xinjiang Province sells kebabs from a grill by the roadside.
Bah Umaru Alpha, 26, and his brother, Bah Thiero Ibrahima, 28, from Kerema, Sierra Leone, are on their way to the mosque in a motorcycle rickshaw.
Bah Umaru Alpha, 26, and his brother, Bah Thiero Ibrahima, 28, from Kerema, Sierra Leone, are on their way to the mosque in a motorcycle rickshaw.
The Bah brothers participate in the evening prayer during Ramadan at Huaisheng Mosque - China(***)s oldest mosque which was built 1,300 years ago.
The Bah brothers participate in the evening prayer during Ramadan at Huaisheng Mosque - China(***)s oldest mosque which was built 1,300 years ago.

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