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.
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 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.
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.
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.