Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Little North Road: Africa in China

Little North Road portrays Africans, most of them in their Sunday best, on a pedestrian bridge in Guangzhou, Southern China. The portrayals are meant to illustrate that they are doing fine abroad. 

How did the book come about? Photographer Daniel Traub stumbled across two Chinese guys, Wu Yong Fu and Zeng Xian Fang, who took pictures of Africans (and made prints on the spot) in Guangzhou. Traub convinced them to transfer several hundred files to his computer and the came up with the captivating selection that is now found in Little North Road.

Traub describes himself as „someone who has long been involved with China, including a decade spent living and working there, and as someone who has worked in various parts of the African continent“ and so it's no wonder he felt intrigued by Wu Yong Fu's and Zeng Xian Fang's picture taking.

Guangzhou is a port city with a population of about 13 million including a considerable number of Africans. I thought this astonishing – hence my interest in this book – for during my four-month stay in China (in Fujian Province, in 2002) I was told by Chinese that they had not much sympathy for Africans. Whether this is true or not (or can be so generally put) I cannot say but it influenced my perception of the Chinese not exactly favourably. Looking at the pics in this tome did however modify my view. Especially Traub's double-page spreads at the beginning, that show Little North Road by day, and at the end, that show Little North Road by night, convey the impression that Chinese and Africans are getting along just fine.
„The title of this book LITTLE NORTH ROAD is the literal English translation of Xiaobeilu, a road in the Yuexiu District of Guangzhou, which the pedestrian bridge adjoins. 'Xiaobeilu' s also the colloquial name for the broader area surrounding the road. It is the most diverse section of the city, and includes the largest number of African visitors and immigrants in Guangzhou.“

For the full review, see here

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