In the Weihai International Economic & Technical Cooperative Co. Ltd compound in the Eastern-Congolese city of Lubumbashi, Ms. Li Ou immediately re-directed us to her colleague Serge Mulumba. He is a perfect example of a complex Chinafrican web: over ten years ago, he began trading mobile telephones imported from China and is still involved in the business. He has market stands in a former colonial post and telephone office with a Belgian art nouveau façade. This is also where we meet his Pakistani business partner.
On the other hand, Serge Mulumba’s wife Carine deals with high-end women’s fashion made in China, which she transports once a month by car from Johannesburg, South Africa all the way through Zimbabwe and Zambia to Lubumbashi. We later visited several of the China malls surrounding the South African metropolis. These Chinese products are trucked in from the Durban ocean port.
At the moment, Serge Mulumba is mainly working as an interpreter for the Chinese construction company WIETEC. This entails a whole lot more than simply translating from one language to another. He operates as a cultural translator of daily life, e.g. explaining that the various tax requests from miscellaneous ministries in no way indicates corruption, but that splitted responsibility is instead completely “normal” in this country.

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