In Zimbabwe, learning Chinese is a lucrative investment
27 February 2013 | 4515 Views
- 'Mugabe strong armed by the Chinese to support Mnangagwa': Report | 31 October 2014
- Britons plan $100 million Zimbabwe investment | 31 October 2014
- The British are coming to kneel before us, Cdes | 31 October 2014
- SA Constitutional Court to rule on Zimbabwe torture case | 30 October 2014
- Danish Minister to visit Zimbabwe for high-level meetings | 29 October 2014
- Fly Africa to battle SAA on Zimbabwe route with cheaper deals | 29 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 | 13921 views
- Mtukudzi should come clean on HIV status | 12018 views
- Open letter to Grace Mugabe | 11839 views
- Mugabe is reintroducing Z$ in a vain attempt to avoid regime change | 10859 views
- Kissed by the devil - How the 'Lord Of Darkness' met TB Joshua | 10318 views
- Mnangagwa using Grace Mugabe and vice versa, double crossing the croc midstream a big No No! | 8654 views
Latest Classifieds (Click Here For More)
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 3405 Views
AFP | 31 October 2014 | 1136 Views
Prince Tongogara | 31 October 2014 | 1066 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2109 Views
MDC-T | 31 October 2014 | 1815 Views
SAPA | 31 October 2014 | 2297 Views
City Press | 31 October 2014 | 3407 Views
Staff Reporter | 31 October 2014 | 5312 Views
Wilbert Mukori | 31 October 2014 | 1993 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1681 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 4506 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 3338 Views
Court Reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2840 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2165 Views
Court Reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1267 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 3194 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1748 Views
Court reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1689 Views
Staff Reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2150 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1495 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2271 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2183 Views
Staff Reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2601 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2482 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1717 Views
cznotebook | 31 October 2014 | 1370 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 3207 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1560 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 2607 Views
Staff reporter | 31 October 2014 | 1868 Views
Rob Yates | 31 October 2014 | 368 Views
Staff reporte | 30 October 2014 | 2829 Views
Staff reporter | 27 October 2014 | 2097 Views
Staff reporter | 23 October 2014 | 1576 Views
Staff Reporter | 23 October 2014 | 4161 Views
Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 3492 Views
Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 6564 Views
Staff reporter | 19 October 2014 | 2152 Views