China has found a home in Africa and many Chinese workers troop into countries in all the four sub-Saharan regions to engage in construction and mining work.
Their migration is part of agreements with African governments to allow the Chinese to build infrastructure and develop the continent while deepening bilateral relations.
However, the relations have gone beyond governments as the Chinese workers, who are temporary migrants, sow their seeds in African soil by fathering unwanted children with young African women and girls who have no means to fend for them.
Mining towns in Ghana, communities around the Karuma dam construction site in Uganda and the Thika Road construction site in Kenya among many other communities around the continent have hundreds of Chinese-looking babies of African women and girls without fathers.
A BBC Pidgin documentary in April revealed that many young women were struggling to take care of their mixed-race children left behind by Chinese illegal miners in Dunkwa in the Central Region.
About 4,500 Chinese miners were in this area until the government crackdown in 2013 against illegal mining activities that were destroying river bodies and vegetation. However, the children were most affected as they faced stigmatization while their mothers were ridiculed in their poor communities.
“When my daughter gave birth, we discovered that the child was Chinese-looking. We attempted to find the father of the boy but the Chinese had left,” said Wofa K, the grandfather of a 4-year-old Afro-Chinese boy called Evans Kofi China.
His mother said she faces difficulties raising the boy because she can’t afford school fees, hair and body lotion which are expensive.
For Afua whose 7-year-old daughter Ama is Afro-Chinese, the girl was raised with her Chinese father for two years before he returned to China. She believes he will return for them and the stigma of being mocked will end.
Meanwhile, in Kenya where the Chinese are building a highway linking the capital Nairobi to the industrial town of Thika, a 20-year-old student called Patricia is reported to be looking for the father of her 2-month-old baby whom she only knows as Shu.
She said she was impregnated last year by the Chinese worker after he gave her a lift while returning from secondary school. She has since not seen him and has dropped out of school as a result.
It is not a different story in Uganda where Chinese employees of Sinohydro Construction Company are constructing the Karuma dam in the Oyam District. The sub-county alone has about 20 children Afro-Chinese children without fathers, said the Kamdini sub-county chairperson Sam Ogwang Alunyu who told local media Daily Monitor.
20-year-old Jacqueline Adero, a resident of Arukolong, Zambia Parish, has a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter with a Chinese worker identified only as Yahang.
She said they met and started a relationship in 2015 during her search for a job at the company. He promised to marry her and take her to China, only for him to leave without her while she was 5 months pregnant.
Adero was left without a job and a baby she couldn’t take care of. “She only feeds on biscuits and soft drinks and when we serve her local dishes, she develops rashes all over her body. I am just a peasant and unable to raise this child,” said Adero’s father Alfred Kolo who wants the company to help find the baby’s father.
“It is very expensive to meet her medical needs and feed her considering the diet she requires … Her real father has to come in and support,” he added.
The construction company did not respond to questions from the newspaper but referred them to the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) whose corporate affairs manager Simon Kasyate said: “Sex at Karuma is being traded on the basis of willing buyer and willing seller. These girls knew that these Chinese nationals have a lot of money that they would milk.”
The Kamdini sub-county chairperson Sam Ogwang Alunyu said efforts to get the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to intervene has proved futile.
The problem of fatherless Afro-Chinese children will remain as long as the Chinese continue to form temporary communities in African towns and villages for government-sanctioned construction works.
Governments have to intervene as the “unwanted legacy” left behind by the Chinese workers is grim considering the fact that fatherless children will have to suffer for the benefit of continent enjoying the Sino infrastructural legacy.
This article by Ismail Akwei was first published at face2faceafrica.com