Trade: Snapshots of African Traders in Hong Kong and China

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    Kofi, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2009

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    Tmony with Chinese RMB, Guangzhou, 2009

On July 16, 2009, an estimated one to two hundred African traders staged a protest outside a police station in the city of Guangzhou, China. Prompted by a police raid to round up illegals that resulted in the injury of two men, the crowd managed to block the road in front of the station for nearly six hours. According to Chinese media, the incident marked the first time in recent history that foreigners had staged a protest on Chinese soil. But according to some of the traders I met in Guangzhou, this was not the first time the African trading community in southeastern China had been raided by Chinese authorities.

I booked a ticket to Hong Kong in November of 2009 with plans to cross the border into China and document the everyday lives of African men and women living in Hong Kong and China. These photographs are a record of my journey and a glimpse into the worlds of African men and women trading between continents, countries, and cultural divides.

Wendy Thompson Taiwo received a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland and was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of History at the University of Minnesota from 2009–2010 where she began a research project documenting the everyday lives of African traders in Hong Kong and China. She is currently turning this project into a book.