Series nurtures SA-China love affair

Dolana Msimang - Pix Credit: China Radio International

Dolana Msimang - Pix Credit: China Radio International

Published Jun 29, 2015


EVER wondered why the term “My China” has been part of the South African lexicon or of its origins? One explanation is that it’s cockney rhyming slang for China plate (which translates into mate).

Maybe. But either way, there are 12 Saffers who are making their mark in China and whose lives have been covered in a documentary series due to be shown on television in China and South Africa.

Last week,, the English website of China Radio International, held a media showcase at the Beijing Jintai Art Museum to present the documentary series South Africans in China. The series celebrates 2015 as the “Year of China” in South Africa and seeks “to enhance the friendship and understanding between the two peoples”.

“South Africans in China will be broadcast across new and traditional media. In addition to,, Youku, Tencent and Youtube, a Beijing television documentary channel and will also broadcast the series.


Over the past six months, filmed South Africans living and working in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Huizhou, and Yangshuo and produced 12 documentaries, which have each been edited to 10 minutes.

Two of the subjects – Mark O’Connell from George and Andile Munyai from Sandton – appeared at the showcase.


O’Connell used to work at Fancourt before landing a job at the Xili Golf and Country Club in Shenzhen six years ago. “It was quite intimidating being filmed, but it made it easier for me that it was at work,” he said.

O’Connell says he flies home at least once a year with his family. “China is my home for the foreseeable future.”

Munyai is based in Beijing and studies international business marketing at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

“I came to China to study because I noticed the growing relationship between South Africa and China.

“China’s relationship aligns with South African development goals.

“I want to participate and learn as much as I can, take the knowledge back to South Africa. My dream is to establish businesses that will enhance partnerships between South African and Chinese trade.”

Others documented in the series work in the fields of business, education, art, sport and communication.

Grant Horsfield in Shanghai is the founder of a green tourism project “Naked Retreats” and Winston Sterzel focuses on video blogging on the streets of Shenzhen to show people what China is really like.

The stories in the documentary series are meant to reflect the lives of South Africans in China and the understanding between Chinese and South African people.

South African ambassador to China, Dolana Msimang, said the initiative by China Radio International would take the experience of South Africans living in China to a broader audience here and back home.

“It is so heartening to see South Africans acknowledged in such a way, far from home. South Africa is 11 200km from China, but we are close and our relationship is flourishing.

“There are more than 300 000 Chinese people in South Africa. This documentary is important. It will help the two nations understand each other better.”

Xia Jixuan, China Radio International’s vice president, said Chinese President Xi Jinping was pursuing the idea of a “Chinese dream”, which related not only to Chinese people’s dreams, but also those of foreigners in China.


• Yunus Kemp is the deputy editor of the Cape Argus. He is on a 10-month scholarship with the China Africa Press Centre.


Cape Argus


Related Topics: