Portrait: Wang Hui Li

Wang Hui Li cropped 2

Wang Hui Li came to work at Harare’s China Garden restaurant five years ago because a relative needed an extra pair of hands. “My mother’s mother is the boss’s sister,” she told me, sounding a little uncertain. Ni mamade mama shi laobande meimei? I repeated. She thought for a moment before repeating the sentence quizzically, and we said it back and forth a couple of times, knowing that something about the description sounded strange. Her mother’s mother is her grandmother – but she must have become accustomed to “mother’s mother” from explanations of how she’d come to this Chinese restaurant in Harare’s suburbs.

Five years is a long time to be away from home, I suggested. Had she adapted to life in Zimbabwe’s capital? Yes, she nodded, with a smile. “The air is good, the climate is good, and there’s no cold winter like in China.” Xi’an, the central Chinese city she calls home regularly sees snow in winter. She’d be going home next year she said. And would she return? I asked. “ I don’t know,” she said calmly, as if uncertainty were the most inevitable thing in the world.

“Wang Hui Li” she told me, when I asked for her full name. She drew the character for Wang in the air with four strokes of her index finger, patted my arm, and said goodbye with a smile.


China’s Mobile Payment Revolution Is Going to Africa

Standard Bank advertising We Wallet cropped smaller

With the launch of Apple Pay in mainland China on Feb. 18, Apple has become the first foreign player to secure a place at the table for China’s enormous mobile payment market. The company will be battling for market share with e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Wallet, which dominate China’s mobile payment arena.

Billboard in Cape Town’s CBD

By the end of last year, a staggering 358 million Chinese were using mobile phones to purchase goods and services, according to research from the China Internet Network Information Center. Outside of China, financial institutions are eagerly looking for ways to build entire ecosystems around their users, following the success of digital leaders like Tencent and Alibaba, Beijing-based managing director of Accenture Albert Chan told Bloomberg.

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