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Chinese People in Africa: An Inside View into Their Daily Lives (Translation) Part 3 – Ghana

Chinese law magazine “Rule of Law Weekly” interviewed six Chinese people who are working in Africa.  Each individual works in a different country and they all have a story to tell.  The following is the third installment in the six-part series.
Ghana
Rule of Law Weekly Reporter Gao Jin  Translation by Erik Myxter
“The home of coco” Ghana is located near the equator in West Africa.  The country does not have all four seasons; during the course of the year Ghana only has the dry season and the rainy season.  The weather here is a very dry heat.  During the time of our interview the rainy season was soon arriving and Jia Jie (pseudonym) almost everyday meets the dark rain clouds that are full of energy and are ready to storm.
Three years ago, Jia Jie first arrived in Ghana to work as an account manager for a Ghanaian communication’s company.  It is his company’s job to provide a full range of communications services for the country.
Before departing to Africa, Jia Jie went through unbearable burden of having to leave his wife and child, but nowadays the worries he once had do not exist.  “Ghana is a great country, the standard of living to price ratio is so high that even many European and American families choose to live and work here.  Here you can find your own fun, and march to your own beat, it is really great.” He told reporters.
Ghana is a former British colony and today it basically follows common law.  Once Jia Jie arrived in Ghana he took part in a training course that was held by a local organization of the commercial office of the Embassy.  It was there where he studied local culture, customs and immigration, social security and legal risk aversion.
“In Ghana Huawei, Southern Airlines, China Development Bank, China-Africa Fund, China Hydroelectric, Sinopec, Shenzhen Natural Resources and other large Chinese companies do business.  At the same time many small businesses, electronic sellers and private individuals who come to Africa to do business are also here.”  Jia Jie explains.
The official language in Ghana is English, but they do speak with a strong accent.  “For the first few months when I came here I was not accustom to it (the accent), this made communication with customers a major problem.”
According to the company’s requirements he had to quickly overcome these obstacles and adapt, otherwise he would be eliminated.
So initially I worked hard to quickly become familiar with the content of my work, this included studying English, the technology, and the customers.  “Doing this created immediate positive results during my evaluation.” He said.
In regards to his life, the company already arranged it for him.  Jia Jie and his co-workers live in “incredibly nice” company housing. When he leaves, he has a car, where he works is the best local office around, and the cafeteria serves Chinese food.  On weekends, the company organizes staff to play football and basketball.
After working here for a short while, Jia Jie felt that Ghanaian people have very direct personalities and they are not scared to say what they love or hate.  “As long as you show a good heart with your customers, and satisfy their demands you will have good relations here, there is no foundation for the complicated and burdensome ‘guanxi’ system like in China.”
On the ground, many Chinese companies have a ban: It is prohibited to destroy the local ecological species, and one must act in an environmentally responsible behavior.  Here there are many precious wild animals, for example, the West African coast all have rare, internationally protected animals such as the sea turtle.
On the other hand, there are many local fruits that can be enjoyed.
Ghana’s specialty products include Coco, coffee, rich mangoes, pineapples, papaya, watermelon, oranges, apples, bananas and avocado’s….. Jia Jie says: “The pineapples and especially great, the color of the pineapple here is whiter than that of China’s, the flavor is very sweet and not even the least bit sour, those of my colleagues who have gotten use to eating the pineapple here, cannot even touch a Chinese pineapple once they come home.”
Over time, many Chinese co-workers love Africa.  “The food here is healthy and safe, the air quality is terrific and life’s pressures are few. “ These points are something he and his co-workers all agree on.
In Jia Jie’s view, although Ghana has a stable and safe society, a fast developing economy and a few years ago they discovered oil, but he feels the economy is still not developing quickly enough.  “There is a lack of infrastructure.  The public transportation system, the national electrical grid, water supply network, unified planning of energy supply facilities, basic education and national health protection all needs to be improved.”
But these problems do not have an effect on the local people’s elegance.
Ghanaian people really do not like people smoking in public places.  They also don’t like other’s putting pressure on people because here it is seen as being very impolite.
“For example while meeting in an elevator, everyone will great each other.  In China people do not have this custom, so when a local person greets you and you do not respond they will remind you:  I said ‘Good Morning’ to you, you must respond.” Jia Jie explained.
Ghanaian’s like music, every night people enjoy themselves out at open air bars singing and dancing in the street. They have positive attitudes towards life; life is not so exhausting there.  Although they admire the lives of the rich, they are not jealous of them; they believe each person has their own ways of living.
“My company’s driver has a monthly salary of not even 1000 Yuan, but he will not work overtime to make more money.  He also won’t give up dinner with his family or church on the weekend.  And regardless if they are hawkers on the street, or are one of your colleagues, people are generally happy to greet you.” Jia Jie says.
The traffic in Ghana made him feel that there is a high level of social trust here.
If a local street car broke down on the side of the road, there will be a group of people willing to help push.  After the car has been started, the driver will just put his hand out of the window and wave to express thanks, the people who helped will just laugh and go on their way.
Ghanaian streets are very narrow, but at a fork in the road drivers are courteous to each other they let others pass in order.  A small fender bender is not particularly a serious situation; the drivers will smile and go on their way.  Also all vehicles slow down when they see pedestrians and the rule everyone follows is “pedestrian-first”.
What was most incredibly to Jia Jie was that even though the roads are narrow, if an emergency vehicle sounds it siren the cars on the road immediately move to the sides of the road so that the emergency vehicle can pass down the middle.
“This was the first time I have ever seen such a scene, and unexpectedly it was in Africa.”
In 2011, Jia Jie started to take up golf, which became a deep fascination  “I like the culture surrounding golf, its elegance and the personal interaction that exists between the two who are playing.” he said.
Starting in July 2011, every Saturday and Sunday Jia Jie plays a round at the golf course.  Because he is a club member, to play one round of golf it costs less than 50 Yuan, this compared to China where it can cost anywhere between 1000 to 2000 Yuan a round.
“Some people come to Africa and have a chance to come in contact, understand and appreciate this sport.  Because by chance I chose to play a sport not many in China understand, I like this country.” Jia Jie said.
加纳
法治周末记者 高欣
“可可之乡”加纳位于非洲西部,靠近赤道,没有四季。全年只有旱季和雨季,天气非常炎热干燥。如今,雨季来临,贾杰(化名)几乎每天都要迎接一场乌云遍天、“充满正能量”的暴风雨。
三年前,作为某通讯企业驻加纳客户经理,贾杰首次赴非。在那里,他所属的公司为加纳提供全面的通讯服务。
出发前,与妻儿分别的痛苦曾让他难以忍受。如今,彼时的各种担心都已不存在。“加纳是个非常好的国家,性价比很高,很多欧美国家的人也会选择在这里工作和生活。找到自己的乐趣,踩准节拍,还是很不错的。”他对记者说。
加纳是前英殖民地国家,基本沿用英美法系。刚到加纳,贾杰就参加了当地使馆经商处组织的当地文化、法律法规培训,了解海关入境、社会治安、法律风险规避等基本内容。
“这里有华为、南航、国开行、中非基金、中水电、中石油、深能源等大公司,也有小的公司来销售电子产品,还有个人到非洲来做生意。”贾杰介绍。
加纳的官方语言是英语,加上本地口音,刚来的前几个月,他非常不适应,与客户的沟通存在很大问题。
按公司的要求,他必须快速克服并适应,否则会被淘汰。
“所以最初是拼命工作,快速熟悉自己的工作内容,在英语、技术、客户等各个方面都要有立竿见影的效果和考评。”他说。
而生活上,公司早已安排好。贾杰和其他同事住“条件非常好”的公司公寓,出入有车、在当地最好的写字楼里上班,食堂提供中餐。周末,公司还会组织员工踢足球、打篮球。
工作一段时间后,贾杰感到,加纳人的性格喜欢直来直去,爱憎分明。“只要你用心跟客户搞好关系,满足他们的需求,基本上没有像国内那样繁冗复杂的人际关系。”
在当地,许多中国公司都有一条禁令:禁止破坏当地生态物种、环境的行为。这里有不少珍贵的野生动物,比如在整个西非海岸都很稀少的国际保护动物海龟等。
而当地的水果,却是可以大吃特吃的。
加纳特产是可可与咖啡,盛产芒果、菠萝、木瓜、西瓜、橙子、苹果、香蕉、牛油果……贾杰说:“尤其是菠萝,颜色比国内的白,非常甜腻,一点酸味都没有,基本上吃惯了这里菠萝的同事,回国以后菠萝再也不碰了。”
久而久之,不少中国同事对非洲就十分喜爱了。“这里食品健康安全,空气质量非常好,生活压力也小。”这几点,是贾杰和同事们的共识。
在贾杰看来,加纳虽然社会安全稳定、经济快速发展,前几年又刚发现石油,但发展速度不够快。“缺少基础设施、公共交通系统, 国家电网、自来水供应网络以及统一规划的能源供应设施,基础教育和国民健康保障也有待提高。”
但这些丝毫不影响当地人的优雅。
加纳人非常不喜欢在公共场所抽烟的行为;不喜欢被人催促,因为他们觉得那样非常没礼貌。
“再比如在电梯里见面,大家要互相问好。中国人没这个习惯,所以有时遇到当地人向你问好,你没反应,他就会提醒你:我在对你说早上好,你不得不回问。”贾杰说。
加纳人喜欢音乐,每天晚上都会在街边的露天酒吧载歌载舞,非常快乐。他们生活态度积极,生活没那么累;羡慕有钱人的生活,但不嫉妒,认为各自有各自的活法。
“我们公司的司机月工资只有合人民币不到1000元,但他们不会为了多挣加班费,而放弃与家人的晚餐时间,也不会放弃周末与家人去教堂的机会。不管是街上的小贩,还是公司的本地员工,平时都是开开心心地跟你打招呼。”贾杰说。
加纳的交通让他感受到了当地超高的社会信任度。
在当地,若街上有车抛锚,路边会有一群人过去帮忙推车。车启动以后,司机“也只是把手伸出窗外,挥挥手打个招呼表示感谢,帮忙的人也嘻嘻哈哈地各自走开”。
加纳街道窄,但司机在岔路口互相礼让,井然有序。有一点小摩擦、剐蹭,只要情况不是特别严重,都会在车里互相笑笑就过去了。所有的车辆遇到行人都是主动减速,让行人先过。
最让贾杰觉得不可思议的是,尽管路面窄小,只要有公共车辆鸣笛(消防、救护、警察等),道路上的车立即往两遍躲避停靠,让出中间的路给后面鸣笛的车辆。
“这种情况我第一次亲眼见到,竟然是在非洲。
2011年,贾杰开始接触高尔夫,并深深迷恋。“喜欢它的高雅和人与人之间这种圈子的建立。”他说。
从2011年7月开始,贾杰的每个双休日几乎都在球场度过。由于公司是俱乐部会员,打一场高尔夫球不到50元人民币。而在国内,则需1000元到两千元不等。
“有一种来了非洲才有机会接触、了解这项运动的感激之情;因为偶然选择了一项在国内极少接触到的运动,而喜欢上一个国家。”贾杰说。

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