An African revolution that needs noticing: ‘The Chinese are the most voracious capitalists on the continent and trade between China and Africa is doubling every year.’
I arrived in Sierra Leone in June 2005, at the height of the rainy season. Mud washed down the pot-holed streets of the capital, Freetown, and knots of beggars, some without arms or legs, huddled under trees and against battered shop-fronts. It was a fortnight before the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, where Bob Geldof and Bono were to celebrate a huge increase in aid to Africa, but in the Bintumani Hotel no-one spoke of this. Gusts of rain-filled wind blew through the hotel’s porch to set the large red lanterns swinging. Cardboard cut-outs of Chinese children in traditional dress had been stuck on the windows. The management had just celebrated Chinese New Year.
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