China and Africa

Botswana's Chinese weekly, The Oriental Post


The Oriental Post, Botswana's first Chinese-language newspaper, was launched with great fanfare at the end of May at a ceremony that included performances of opera and magic and the presence of Miss Botswana.

The launch was reported by the local press, China's foreign ministry, and the People's Daily, which has a content partnership with the newspaper.

Last week, France 24's The Observers ran a story on the new paper under the headline "Africa's first Chinese newspaper":

China's involvement in African affairs has grown considerably since the 1990s. An indication of Beijing's influence in the continent, the first daily newspaper printed in Chinese has arrived in Botswana.

The Oriental Post is not a daily newspaper. The Chinese title 非洲华侨周报 means "Africa Overseas Chinese Weekly," and according to a report filed by the Chinese embassy in Botswana and carried on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the paper is published once a week:

On May 29, 2009, the launch ceremony for The Oriental Post and the People's Daily Overseas Edition Africa Weely was held in Gaborone, capital of Botswana.

...[Ambassador] Liu Huanxing hailed the launch of The Oriental Post and said that he hoped that it would use the advantages of the media in the service of overseas Chinese, help promote mutual understanding between China and Africa, and become a platform for communication and exchange between the people of Botswana and the Chinese residing in the country.
The Oriental Post is a general-interest Chinese-language newspaper printed in a 20 to 40 page color tabloid format and is distributed across the country every Friday. It will gradually expand to cover the entire African region. The newspaper is an African partner of the People's Daily overseas edition.

Nor is The Oriental Post Africa's first Chinese-language newspaper.

A commenter to a post on the Blood and Treasure blog (where the news first came to Danwei's attention) points to a story from 2005 about the launch of a Chinese-language paper in Lagos, Nigeria:

West African United Business Weekly, the first newspaper in Chinese, was officially issued on Aug.7 (Sunday )in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria.
[Newspaper president Qian Guolin] said proudly that the weekly was the first newspaper in Chinese issued in the west African region, adding that the publication of the newspaper signaled that the Chinese people in west Africa "have made great strides forward in creating and improving their lives and expanding their businesses."

Writing about the launch of The Oriental Post for Mmegi, Mpho Tlale made a more limited claim:

The Oriental Post, a Chinese newspaper, was launched at Gaborone's Maharaja Restaurant on Friday night. The newspaper, probably the first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is printed in Chinese.
Speaking at the same event, Coordinator of the Botswana Government Communications and Information System, Jeff Ramsay, said the launch of The Oriental Post marks a major milestone in the development of the media in Botswana. Dr Ramsay also said that the newspaper is the first of its kind to be printed in an international language other than English here.

China Express (华侨新闻报) has been publishing out of Johannesburg, South Africa (SADC member) since 1994.

However, that paper is published in traditional characters and lacks the ties to the People's Daily that connects The Oriental Post to mainland China, so perhaps "first of its kind" still applies in this case.

The Observers article, which does not mention the PD partnership, has the only online photo of the cover of the new newspaper, so despite its inaccuracies it's still worth checking out.

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