Faces of Africa – When Chinese Meet Zambians

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Frank Fang with his wife Lucy. They have 3 boys. They live in Zambia

Like many African countries, Zambia has attracted many Chinese in recent years. Frank Fang

and Dr. Gao Kenan came to Africa over two decades ago. Frank arrived in Africa for the first

time in the 1990s. He used to work for a company in his home province in China that deals

with international cooperation. The company would occasionally send its employees abroad.

“Everyone in the company competed to go abroad. If we couldn’t make it to Europe or

America, Africa was not a bad choice,” Told Frank.

Frank Fang with his wife Lucy. They have 3 boys. They live in Zambia
Frank Fang with his wife Lucy. They have 3 boys. They live in Zambia

Few years later, Frank was deployed to

Botswana. “I remember the time I arrived, the sky was so blue, the clouds so… it felt just like

the wallpaper of Windows. And I thought…this place, I love it,” Frank recalled. His love for

Africa further grew when he visited Cape Town, South Africa and the Okavango Delta in

Botswana. “The trip had tremendous impact on me. After the trip, I wished to stay in Africa

so I would have more chances to visit places like that, or even more beautiful than that,” he

told. Frank quit his job and decided to stay in Africa. Together with his friends, they moved

to Zambia and started a new life there. “Living in Africa is not like living in China where

everything seems preplanned. There are young people, who like to break up the pattern. I

belong to this small group of people. So when I arrived in Africa, I felt this is the place for

me,” told Frank. He married a Zambian girl Lucy, and together they have three boys. He

transferred all his assets from China to Zambia and started a clothing store together with his

wife. Fifteen years on, the clothing business has grown. They now run a number of chain

stores in Lusaka, where they have employed about two hundred Zambians. The

intermarriages between the Chinese and Africans were at the time rare and without

controversy from both sides. “Chinese men are not very open and accepting as other races

are. It’s normal that they feel difficult to accept this. And I am prepared to cope with the

prejudice,” he told. Today, Frank is thrilled to see his children enjoy the continent’s beauty

and his feeling about Africa remain indescribable.

Dr. Gao with his employees and the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda
Dr. Gao with his employees and the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda

Dr. Gao went to Zambia in 1988 after she landed an opportunity to offer medical services in a military hospital in Lusaka. “I was a bit

bored with my life in China. I used to work at the central military hospital in Beijing. One day

I heard the news that a medical team was recruiting doctors to be deployed to Africa. I

thought that was great,” told Dr. Gao. Her first encounter of Africa was not any different

from Frank’s. “After our plane landed, I saw the sun beams breaking through the clouds.

That looked so gorgeous! That was a wonderful moment for me,” she recalled.

Dr. Gao Kenan (left) attending to a patient. She lives in Lusaka where she has opened her own dental clinic.
Dr. Gao Kenan (left) attending to a patient. She lives in Lusaka where she has opened her own dental clinic.

In 1994, she rented a house in Lusaka and renovated the garage which she turned into her own dental

clinic, K.G. Dental Clinic that runs till today. But it was very hard to operate a clinic in Lusaka

at the time. “The facilities were all very backward. People had to fly to South Africa for

treatment,” she recalled. But she was relentless. She invited doctors from South Africa and

trained Zambian girls to help. One of the girls was Faith. “She was teaching me from scratch

because I had no idea about dentistry,” told Faith.

Dr. Gao with Faith, her assistant dentist
Dr. Gao with Faith, her assistant dentist

When Faith joined the clinic in 1995, she was straight out of high school but Dr. Gao gave her the opportunity to learn. “The girls were

in fact very bright. I used to write down notes for them specifying what to do on a particular

case. After several practices, they would get it,” said Dr. Gao. Dr. Gao was very impressed by

how Faith grasped everything quickly and offered to facilitate her going to college. “She

facilitated me going to school, and I got a diploma in dental therapy,” Faith recalled. For

twenty seven years, Dr. Gao has lived and enjoyed the beauty of Africa as well as Frank.

Africa has become their second home. “Once you are “bitten” by Africa, you will never be

cured. After visiting some places and meeting some people, you may never want to leave

Africa. I can’t explain why,” told Frank.

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