The power, impact and influence of China was evident last Friday in Johannesburg when it met over 40 African leaders. It is instructive that a single country which in the 1980s was still considered a Third World country, could convene what was virtually a meeting of the African Union, AU, and so many Heads of State attended. This was no gathering of some old colonial master holding a Francophone summit with its former subjects, or some illusory ‘commonwealth’ of an ex-slave master giving his former servants the opportunity to take tea and have a handshake. Nor was it some summit of international lenders or do-gooders dishing out interest loans with slavish instructions and conditionalities. Rather, it was a gathering of people with shared colonial memories of forced occupation, exploitation and underdevelopment. A people with a common past whose gathering exuded self- respect and dignity for all, and a shared vision of a non-exploitative world.

To me, the issue about the Forum on China – Africa Cooperation is not the huge $60 billion funding for infrastructure and industrialisation; providing 200,000 Africans technical skills and an additional 40,000 training opportunities in China. Rather, it is the spirit; that spirit that respects the sovereignty of other countries. The spirit that built the new African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.

One project which exemplifies China’s attitude to Africa is the TAZARA Railways which runs from the Port of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to Kapiri Moshi in central Zambia. Africa in the 1960s faced a dilemma. The White colonialists ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabawe) and, landlocked Zambia, a country at the frontline against racist Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa, had to move its goods through racist territory. It meant that the White supremacists could squeeze or economically strangulate Zambia anytime it wanted. The alternative was for Zambia to take its imports and exports through an African port which would require some 1,860 kilometre-railway. The African countries could not afford it, and their traditional Western friends were unwilling to assist.

Mohammed Babu, a young Tanzanian Minister suggested China should be approached. China was then a poor country, and Tanzanian President, Julius Nyerere, thought it unwise to ask aid from another poor country. However, during a visit to China in February 1965, a hesitant Nyerere broached the issue and Chinese leader, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung responded in what has become the Chinese spirit of partnership and brotherhood: “You have difficulties as we do; but our difficulties are different. To help you build the railway, we are willing to forsake building railways for ourselves.”

The railway which was built from 1970 -75 required China sending a 50,000 workforce from 1965 to 1976 while about 60,000 African workers participated. Without the needed capital and machinery, this remarkable workers brigade, exposed to wild animals and hunger, sacrificed to build the friendship railways. The construction cost $500 million, 64 Chinese and about 100 African lives. Given the motive, human sacrifice and determination, the railway was referred to as the Great Uhuru Railway. Uhuru meaning independence in Swahili.

When I went to China last year, I made enquiries about the families of these Chinese workers who came out to assist Africa, and paid the supreme sacrifice. I intend to do a follow up and also trace the families of the African workers who lost their lives. My intention is to do a documentary or write a book.

Humanity has known extreme poverty and hunger. These are some of the addictive drugs fuelling crimes, conflicts and violence. One of the greatest gifts China has made to humanity is that it feeds 1.357 billion people or 19.24 percent of the world’s population. The Chinese are quite ingenious when it comes to food as they eat virtually anything that is not poisonous.

To be able to cater for themselves, they took hard decisions, including a One-Child Policy which has now been relaxed.

Their strategy of development was to be self-reliant, eat what they produce, be visionary, programmatic and pragmatic while holding on to their culture, language, ideas and ideals. After internal development, they blossomed and stepped out into the centre stage of globalisation outpacing almost all other countries.

In the process they put a lie to the religion that the private sector is the engine of develpoment. They also rejected the theocracy of market forces and pragmatically fixed the value of their currency, and control the stock exchange. That has not stopped them producing some of the biggest companies in modern history like Ali Baba.

Yet, the road was rough for this country with a 4,000-year written record. Of those said to be humanity’s four greatest civilizations; Ancient Egypt, India and Babylonia, China is the only surviving.

Its existence was threatened by Britain which produced opium in colonised India and off-loaded it on China, turning it into an ocean of drug addicts. When the Chinese Qing (Manchu) Dynasty decided to criminalise opium and rid the country of the drug, China was invaded and defeated by Britain in what became known as the First Opium War (1839 – 42). Britain then imposed the 1842 Nanking Treaty under which China legalised the opium trade, exempted imports from transit duties and made the English version of all treaties, superior to that in the Chinese . The Second Opium War was in 1856 when an angry Britain again invaded China for seizing a pirate ship flying the British flag.

When the Chinese Revolution of 1949 removed the pro-West Chian Kai-Shek government, China was not allowed to sit in the United Nations for 22 years. But it overcame its adversaries; retook its seat in both in the General Assembly and Security Council as a permanent member, and, displaying deft diplomatic moves, repossessed Hong Kong from Britain. Taiwan remains the major Chinese territory outside the control of the Peoples Republic of China.

I borrowed the title of this piece from my solidarity message as the Secretary General of African Workers, to the 2013 Congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) in which I challenged other underdeveloped countries: “Go to the Chinese, you sluggard, consider their ways and be wise.”

By  Owei Lakemfa



Thousands of Chinese students sit their exam outside as teachers are convinced it is harder to cheat… despite having to use binoculars to see across the field

With thousands of Chinese students resorting to 007-style gadgets such as pinhole cameras and radio transmitter bras to cheat in their exams, one college decided to take a stand.

More than 3,800 students have been forced to sit their exams outside under the watchful eye of 80 invigilators who used HD cameras, binoculars and even perched on ladders for a better view.

Teachers at Shaanxi Sanhe College in Baoji city of northwest China’s Shaanxi province believe this will help cut down on the use of sophisticated cheating devices such as radio vests and transmitters hidden in bras.

This is the tenth year the school has administered the great outdoor test, which helps determine the order in which students will be recommended to their prospective employers.

Around 1,200 students will sit each exam at the sports ground and the results could have a significant impact on their future.

Security staff in Jinlin, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces revealed that students started using sophisticated radio vests in order to receive help from someone outside the hall.

Pupils were also taking pictures of the tests using a button-hole camera hidden in a pen or watch, then using a copper antenna loop stitched into their clothing to beam it out of the hall to someone sitting with a receiver.

Education is highly valued in China, with many parents sending their children miles each day just to go to school, and many are afraid they will be harshly punished for failure.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2838213/Thousands-Chinese-students-sit-exam-outside.html#ixzz3JNS0YXJQ


Why Is My Alexa Rank So Low?

As a member of the Web Design & Search Engine Optimization industry, Alexa is one of my least favorite topics of discussion with clients. I pride myself on being a man who has the answers. I’m more than comfortable answering questions like:

How can I get more traffic to my web site?

What can I do to improve my conversion rate?

Can you explain the different online advertising companies to me and tell me which one would be best for my business?

But one of the few questions I just can’t answer is, why is my Alexa rank so low?

The best answer I can come up with is, because Alexa Sucks.
Alexa Sucks, The Case Study

I was recently hired by a Japanese toy store to run a social media campaign. Their store gets a good amount of traffic (3,500+ unique visitors per day) and their Alexa rank is terrible (1,042,039 at the time of this article). They were very concerned about their Alexa rank, apparently some of their potential investors wanted to justify the investment based on their rank alone.

I explained to them that at best Alexa provides a biased, incomplete, seemingly arbitrary review of most web sites, and that it’s ridiculous that any professional would give any credibility to a web site’s rank.

The conversation went over well and they decided to give up on the idea of improving their rank. That is, until we launched a small forum for their customers and with only 200 or less hits a day, the forum’s Alexa rank skyrocketed to 500,000.

Let’s Review:

**The Store, which gets 3,000+ unique hits per day**

**The recently launched forum, which gets less than 200 unique hits per day**

Granted, by necessity, Alexa is an imperfect service. However I think that it is inexcusably flawed and biased. Here is where Alexa is flawed beyond repair:

Alexa gathers its data from people using the Alexa Toolbar. Who uses the Alexa toolbar? Web Developers, Administrators, Geeks like myself. This means that a website like mine with very little traffic can rank in the low 400,000’s while an extremely popular toy store like Gundam Store and More ranks over 1,000,000.
Although the majority of bloggers are based out of the United States, many (perhaps unreliable) statistics project that over 60% of Alexa Toolbar users are based in China. Is your web site catering to people in China? Mine sure isn’t.
No one uses the stupid toolbar. It doesn’t come pre-installed on any major browser, and the majority of the internet-surfing public doesn’t go out of their way to download addons. Especially one’s they can’t use for anything.

Why Does It Matter That Alexa Sucks?

Here’s the thing. As a company, Alexa is actually fairly innocent and doesn’t deserve much of the contempt I have. The real problem comes from third party applications using a web site’s Alexa rank as a reliable means to grade the web site. Companies like BuySellAds, WebsiteGrader, and (rumored) Google use the Alexa’s ranking system in their own algorithms to determine popularity.

So, the real problem is that other, important companies take Alexa’s ranking system as a reliable means to learn about a web site when it clearly is not.
Your Thoughts

I’d love to hear your thoughts if any of you have had experiences with Alexa’s ranking system whether they’ve been good or bad. I’d like to update this post with a few more case studies and try to figure out if I’ve just had bad experiences or if there really is a problem that needs to be addressed.