There is nothing new in Prof Deborah Brautigam dismissing American perception of China as a bogeyman in Africa. The John Hopkins University don has said that too many times, most specifically in her book, The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa. Published by Oxford University Press in 2009, this is where Brautigam brought out the independent mindedness of the scholar by using the book to, in her own words, “sort the myths of Chinese aid and economic engagement from the realities, and provide a more balanced, historically grounded, and complex picture of a phenomenon that became central to African development in the first post-millennium decade”.So, when she wrote the piece “U.S. politicians get China in Africa all wrong” in The Washington Post on April 12th, 2018, she wasn’t on a completely new ground although she extended her position with new specifics.
What is rather interesting is the Reuters’ picture used by the newspaper to illustrate the article. First is the splendour or is how fascinating the road is, not being the snaky types hurriedly put together by highly challenged politicians. Second is geopolitics of the bridge vis-a-vis. On this, opinions will vary. Brautigam has hers but, as the reactions to her articles indicate, others have theirs. What it shows is that ‘China in Africa’ is still a debate. The question is: when and how will Africa cease to be a debate and become an answer?