In Zimbabwe, learning Chinese is a lucrative investment
27 February 2013 | 4477 Views
- Chinese experts coming to Zimbabwe | 24 October 2014
- Zimbabwean economy now drifting on autopilot | 24 October 2014
- Zimbabwean Hotels 20% cheaper | 24 October 2014
- Air Zimbabwe to re-introduce flights to Masvingo | 22 October 2014
- Can Zimbabweans trust economic policies? | 20 October 2014
- Zimbabwe, Zambia to launch pilot uni-visa | 20 October 2014
Ni hao, Chinese for "hello," or ting bu dong, meaning "I hear you, but I don't understand," are two expressions one often overhears today in Zimbabwe's capital. It is one of the results of tenacious efforts by governments, private companies and individuals across Africa, but in Zimbabwe particularly, to learn the Chinese language and understand China's culture.
Learning Chinese as a second or third language has been a global trend in the last few years. In Africa, the rapid increase of Chinese investments and trade (China is currently the continent's biggest trading partner) has spurred the trend.
Zimbabwe's government has been very deliberate in enhancing its bilateral relationship with China. It launched the Look East Policyin 2003to give priority to investors from China, Japan, Singapore and other countries from that region.As a result, trade between China and Zimbabwe has been growing exponentially - China is now the biggest buyer of Zimbabwe's tobacco.
Although learning Chinese dates back to Zimbabwe's liberation struggle in the late 1960s and 1970s when freedom fighters went to China for military training, the trend has now accelerated significantly, and for different reasons.
To spread the Chinese language and culture, the government of China is utilizing a concept called Confucianism. Confucius was a great Chinese philosopher and educator born in 551 BC. The Chinese believe that his thoughts have tremendously influenced Chinese culture and even had an impact other cultures. Chinese people refer to Confucius as "a greater teacher."
Zimbabwe leads the rest of the continent in the training of local teachers of Chinese, having integrated the Confucius Institute into the University of Zimbabwe's academic structures in 2007, as part of an expanding network of about 400 Confucius Institutes worldwide. The programme has largely been successful, and the university is poised to export surplus teachers of Chinese to other countries as well.
Professor Pedzisai Mashiri, the inaugural director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Zimbabwe, says that one of the institute's goals is to promote the Chinese language and culture in Zimbabwe.
Because the government is yet to integrate Chinese into the national curriculum for primary and secondary schools, schools that host Confucius classes offer the Chinese language as an extra-curricular activity. More than a thousand students have received such language training through the institute since 2009. A few others are completing studies in China and will join the university soon.
A skill that pays
Observers say there has been a rising demand from organizations and individuals seeking to learn Chinese. Clarence Makoni, the founder of the Cendel Language Bridge, a private company that provides translations, interpretation and foreign language instruction, told Africa Renewal that there are huge benefits in learning foreign languages. Chinese, he says, is by far the most sought after.
"If you look at the rate at which the Chinese are coming into this country," says Mr. Makoni, "you do not need to be a prophet to tell who is going to be the most significant employer in a few years to come. . . . All the people we train are snapped up by companies as soon as they finish their courses, and they are paid very handsomely."
He adds that the ability to speak another major language besides English is a great selling point in the marketplace. A Chinese-speaking interpreter can rake in a monthly salary of Z$5,000, while a bilingual secretary with the same capabilities can claim up to Z$3,000 ' earnings deemed at the top range in Zimbabwe.
Laston Mukaro, a language consultant and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe's linguistics department, says that although his job grading has not yet changed, he is now earning much more after learning Chinese.
"It makes sense to learn Chinese now other than for the reason necessitated by the government's Look East Policy," he says. "Chinese is one of the United Nation's official languages and if you look at the way China is expanding into the world, you can do better if you speak their language."
Mr. Mukaro also earns a lot of money from exchange programmes between China and Zimbabwe. In addition, he frequently consults for the local Confucius Institute. Other benefits include his current work on a handbook for translating between Chinese and Shona, one of Zimbabwe's main indigenous languages. "For those who travel to and do business with China a lot, and are privileged to tap its diverse tourism, then learning Chinese is practically obligatory and has immense benefits," he says with enthusiasm.
More expansion ahead
Professor Mashiri says there are plans to open at least five more Chinese teaching points in other parts of the country, and to construct a Confucius Institute building at the University of Zimbabwe. The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe has also promised to build a cultural centre to strengthen cultural cooperation between the two countries.
The world is now a global village, requiring people to understand each other's culture and languages, says Levi Nyagura, the University of Zimbabwe's vice-chancellor. "We want to see Zimbabwean students get jobs in China. We will continue to work hard to institutionalize the Chinese language, as we have done with the other major world languages."
There are also suggestions for introducing Chinese into the national curriculum. "The net effect," argues Professor Mashiri, "is to have the teaching and learning of Chinese cascade from university to secondary and primary schools."
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
Source: Africa Renewal www.un.org
Most Read Stories
- Why the Synagogue Building Collapsed - Military Expert | 13261 views
- Mtukudzi should come clean on HIV status | 11279 views
- Mugabe is reintroducing Z$ in a vain attempt to avoid regime change | 10408 views
- Kissed by the devil - How the 'Lord Of Darkness' met TB Joshua | 9043 views
- Mnangagwa using Grace Mugabe and vice versa, double crossing the croc midstream a big No No! | 8113 views
- Yes we did it! come on! - the brave man who asked Mugabe to take a rest | 8008 views
Latest Classifieds (Click Here For More)
Byo Residents | 24 October 2014 | 742 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3344 Views
Thubelihle Mabhena | 24 October 2014 | 2348 Views
Farirai Machivenyika and Felex Share | 24 October 2014 | 1512 Views
Suitable Kajau | 24 October 2014 | 2668 Views
Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 1784 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2690 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2106 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4548 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2389 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4370 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2286 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2233 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3047 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3099 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4148 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3524 Views
Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2153 Views
Itai Dzamara | 24 October 2014 | 2127 Views
Denford Madenyika (Denny) | 24 October 2014 | 3106 Views
Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2270 Views
Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4573 Views
Mashudu Netsianda | 24 October 2014 | 1343 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2326 Views
Lloyd Gumbo | 24 October 2014 | 1593 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3330 Views
Elias Mambo | 24 October 2014 | 4098 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2964 Views
Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2258 Views
Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2398 Views
Staff reporter | 23 October 2014 | 751 Views
Staff Reporter | 23 October 2014 | 1808 Views
Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 2782 Views
Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 5172 Views
Staff reporter | 19 October 2014 | 1541 Views
Staff Reporter | 19 October 2014 | 2684 Views
Staff Reporter | 17 October 2014 | 1781 Views
Staff reporter | 16 October 2014 | 2066 Views